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Sixth-graders travel the world… from their classroom

Multicultural Fair doubles as class exam

Sixth-grader Emileo Vela says the Dutch translations for such words as hello, restaurant and good-bye

Leer en Español, traducido por El Vocero Hispano

Godwin Heights — With her passport in hand, sixth-grader Htoo Say stepped away from her Thailand display to visit the Netherlands, where sixth-grader Emileo Vela was ready to provide her with all kinds of information.

“So this is a McDonalds in the Netherlands,” Emileo said as pointed to a mostly glass building that supports the iconic golden arches. “As you can see,” he told her, “they decided to go with a much different style of building than what you would see near us.”

Emileo then pointed to the next photo of a Burger King with crown-shaped architecture. 

“As you can see, it is the same with Burger King,” he said.

After filling out information such as the capital city, holidays celebrated, languages spoken, religions and restaurants, Htoo moved on to her next country. 

Emileo and Htoo were participating in the Multicultural Fair, an annual event focused on culture in sixth-grade social studies teacher Nate Jesse’s class.

Learning About Culture

Student groups researched a country of their choice and put together travel brochures and a presentation of their selected country. In the presentation, students had to include information on the country’s gross domestic product per capita, restaurants, capital city, holidays, interesting facts, languages spoken and religions. The travel brochures included details on the top three destinations of that country, climate and weather, celebrations and translations of common words. The entire unit took about four weeks.

“Instead of an exam on the unit, the fair is their exam,” Jesse said. “This way, they get to practice writing and presenting.”

During the hour, students presented to classmates who collected information on six different countries for their passports. Staff and students from other classes also visited. 

Seventh-grader Alijah Dickson fans out all the brochures he collected during the Multicultural Fair

“I am into history, so I wanted to study the Netherlands because of the country’s involvement in World War II,” Emileo said. 

Emileo said he learned a lot about the country, like that people there celebrate the Second Day of Christmas, Dec. 26, which also happens to be St. Stephen’s Day, a day honoring the first Christian martyr. 

And “I didn’t know that Vincent van Gogh was Dutch,” Emileo said. “I thought he was French.”

Discovering a Whole New World

Sophia Stranton, who focused on Finland, said Helsinki became the country’s capital in 1812, and the country became independent from Russia in 1917.

“I also thought it was interesting that Finland was the first country to allow women to vote (in 1906),” Sophia said.

A’Sahra Kanjia has a personal connection to the country she selected, Nigeria.

“I just liked the country, but also my father is from there,” said A’Sahra, who added that she has never visited.

She discovered some interesting facts about Nigeria, such as the capital is Abuja because it is located in the middle of the country, and that they celebrate Independence Day on Oct. 1, the day in 1960 when the country gained independence after being under British rule. 

Read more from Godwin Heights: 
Family members and heroes honored through art project
She’s got bad mom jokes and she is not afraid to use them

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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