Whether learning about indigenous animals, discovering the significance of the Baobab tree, or experiencing Zulu dance for the first time, students at Morris Brandon Elementary School were immersed in South African culture this week.
Thanks to their participation in the International Travel Academy program, students in grades K-5 spent time engaging in a fun, hands-on educational curriculum that allowed them to “travel” to South Africa – all within the walls of their school building. Students participated in games like Morabaraba, created works of art to mimic the ancient rock art, and learned about the language, history, geography and native animals of South Africa. They even gained knowledge about different aspects of the culture like a traditional Sangoma wedding, as well as Zulu dancing from the local dance group Soweto Street Beats.
In addition to dancing, students created artwork and dolls similar to those traditionally left for the girls a South African man would like to marry, tasted a South African vegetable stew from Zunzi’s restaurant called “bunny chow,” and listened to a guest speaker from South Africa who taught students about national symbols and how read to them.
“Programs such as International Travel Academy allow schools to enhance the International Baccalaureate experience,” said Samuel De Carlo, IB specialist at Morris Brandon. “It provides students the opportunity to not only experience the history, diversity, and to be respectful of other cultures, but to also show tolerance and empathy to other traditions, and develop a greater appreciation for other cultures within our own student body.”
Thanks to a visit from the North Georgia Zoo on Dec. 18, students also received an up-close look and lessons about several South African animals, which included a barn owl, lizard, albino python, bush baby, and a red ruffed lemur.
Dwight Hutson, program administrator at the Morris Brandon Primary Center, said he hopes the International Travel Academy will inspire students to become more globally minded and culturally aware of the world around them.
“Morris Brandon’s vision is to nurture, inspire, and support students in becoming lifelong, responsible, compassionate inquirers who develop a global perspective,” Hutson said. “In an increasingly global society, it is our responsibility as educators to prepare students to interact with and develop an understanding of diverse cultures from around the globe. International Travelers Week is designed to immerse our students in a new country each year, spark an interest in traveling, and inspire our students to learn more about the world and its people.”