Garden Hills Elementary School students “traveled” to Mexico last week, and never left their classrooms.
On May 2-6, students participated in a week-long immersion celebrating Mexican history, culture, cuisine, geography, and festivals through a program known as International Travelers. Art projects ranged from students learning about the cultural significance of the charro and making wearable sombreros and Mayan codices, or bark paper hieroglyph books, to exploring Mayan and Aztec civilizations, and making the Day of the Dead ofrendas, or altars, honoring famous historical Mexican figures.
Members of the Garden Hills Parent Teacher Association worked tirelessly to ensure that students experienced the most authentic sights, sounds and tastes of Mexico. During the week, a Mariachi band greeted students arriving at a beautifully decorated school, children participated in a Mexican hat dance lesson, and nearly 70 parents provided home-cooked Mexican cuisine for the school community to sample in the school’s courtyard.
Using a curriculum developed by International Travel Academy LLC, International Travelers was fully funded by the Garden Hills PTA and foundation. This year’s program introduced students to different cultures, music, food and ways of living. Garden Hills also introduced a kindergarten Spanish-English dual immersion class this school year and celebrated global diversity with its very popular annual event, the International Dinner.
“As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, learning to respect the unique differences and integrity of each culture worldwide has become an essential component of educating a well-rounded student,” said Krista Reilly, an instructional coach at Garden Hills. “International Travelers is just one component of a year-long global education effort by Garden Hills.”
Principal Tommy Usher said it was rewarding to see students engaged in the activities.
“It was great to see the kids excited about celebrating such a rich culture through engaging experiences,” he said. “It not only strengthened students’ cultural identity but also fostered an understanding of a culture so strongly represented in the school.”