SANTEE -- Students at Lake Marion High School recently experienced the culture of many nations around the world without leaving Orangeburg County.
Venecia Whyte-Foster, an international teacher from Jamaica, coordinated a program designed to give students a hands-on understanding of different cultures, many which are represented at the school.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do is help teachers and students to get a better understanding of all the cultures that represent the melting pot of cultures that are here in South Carolina and also in the school,” Whyte-Foster said.
As part of the program, different groups of students dressed in cultural fashions, gave native greetings and sang the native songs from various countries including India, Puerto Rico, the United States, Jamaica, the Philippines, Colombia, Brazil, Kenya and Ghana.
A group of students performed dances from Jamaica, the Caribbean area and the United States. In addition, foods from different nations were served to the students.
Aisha Patel and her mother, Priya Patel, prepared food from their native India. Brittany Johnson shared their culture by sampling the food. She said the food was “okay,” but very different from what she’s used to.
International Day “helped me to learn more about the cultures are the world,” Johnson said.
Her own background is vey “mixed,” she said.
Jazmyn Boone, who was one of the dancers at the program, said she enjoyed experiencing International Day. She says she thinks it will really help students see how other people live in different countries.
Having students “immersed in the different cultures ... not being told about them, but experiencing them” will help the students build a rapport with each other, Whyte-Foster said.
“I want everyone to understand each other’s cultures so we know how to better talk to each other – communicate with each other, interface with each other,” she said.
A lack of understanding about each other’s ways and lifestyles can bring disagreement, especially in a place like Lake Marion, which represents so many different cultures, she said.
“We need a need a unified body working so that the students feel like when they’re in the class, their culture is represented, not only by themselves, but by their teachers,” she said.
In addition, International Day gave students “ownership of their learning,” she said. “They can feel comfortable knowing that their interest is being seen in their classroom.”