Johnson and Thomson Students Share Cultural Pride.

Johnson and Thomson Students Share Cultural Pride.

On May 9, 2013, students from F.W. Johnson Collegiate’s English-as-an-Additional-Language (EAL) program shared their cultures with students from Thomson Community School during Thomson’s Heritage Week. During this time, the EAL students from Johnson performed cultural dances and songs for the elementary students in an effort to encourage sharing among EAL students and role model cultural pride. 

Although Thomson has a very diverse population, it can be difficult to find students willing to present their cultures in a public way. When Johnson students were asked why they thought it was important to share their cultures at Thomson, Farukhnaz Faiz from Afghanistan said, “Small kids are sometimes shy to show their traditional cultures. It’s important for us, as high school students, to teach them how to be proud of their culture and traditions.”

Tila Nepal from Nepal echoed these ideas by saying, “We can teach young children that it is important for them to keep their culture. We also love to show our dances.” There was one student from Thomson, originally from India, who danced in front of her school and  Johnson’s EAL students. At the end of her performance, the Johnson students gave her a standing ovation which made her feel proud of her dance and confident that her culture was appreciated and respected, both in her school and community.

One of the dances Johnson EAL  students shared at Thomson was an  Afghan dance. It is interesting to note that even though there were four dancers in this group, only one of these dancers is originally from Afghanistan. Johnson students encouraged the students at Thomson to support and learn the cultures of each other in addition to their own. Anat and Julieta Shimonov from Israel and Madushika Weeratunga from Sri Lanka said, “Our friend wanted to show her Afghan culture through dance and she needed dancers. Even though we are from other countries, we were happy to help her show her culture.”

Having Johnson’s EAL students share their cultures with students from Thomson was a mutually beneficial  arrangement―Johnson students had a chance to serve as role models and Thomson students had an opportunity to see cultural pride and confidence from older students. Sirjana Subedi from Nepal put it very well, “To me, my culture is very important. My identity is my culture.  I want to show others what my culture is like.  It’s important to share this knowledge with a younger generation so that they will understand many different cultures.  For those who are from another country, like me, these children will learn to keep their culture alive.”

Submitted by Kyla Wendell McIntyre, EAL Teacher, F.W. Johnson Collegiate.