Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's a Small World

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears.
It's a world of hopes, it's a world of fears.
There’s so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
it's a small world after all

                                    It’s a small world after all
                                    It’s a small world after all
                                    It’s a small world after all
                                  It’s a small, small world.

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small, small world

     My introduction to the song "It's A Small World" was not through a visit to Disneyland or Disney World.  I first saw the song published in the Instructor magazine, notes, lyrics and piano accompaniment.  I played it and liked it.  I taught it to my class of 3-6 year olds.  To my surprise, they already knew the song from watching "The Wonderful World of Disney." From that point on I just followed the child sense in me.
     When I visited Disneyland, I was so happy to see a long-play record.  The music shows how the same melody can be made into variations to reflect different lands, countries or cultures.  From that point on I was hooked on the theme of multicultural education.  
     I wrote a proposal for a summer camp for preschoolers with cultural enrichment as its main activity.  It was approved and 20 children enrolled.  Parents usually send their children to other camps to give them other types of experiences during the summer before starting school again in the fall. The interest for this topic was obviously high to choose this over outdoor activities. The summer camp was for six weeks.
     In the classroom I set up corners of the room to reflect a cultural setting mostly suggested by pictures and zig-saw puzzles. For Japan, a poster showing cherry blossoms decorates the wall.  I collected names of boys and girls from friends so children can pin them on as their identity for the day. I placed some bamboo poles with leaves on one corner. A mat to represent tatami covers the area and a low tea table sits on top of the tatami.  On the table sits a vase with a twig with cherry blossom we made.  Activities in the corner include wearing a kimono, bowing to one's partner before drinking "tea."  After the tea ceremony, the pair bow to each other, hung the kimonos and leave the area so others may have their turn.  
     Several individual activities can be pursued in the main classroom:  origami, flower arrangement, making tissue cherry blossoms on a twig, fit together a 30-piece zig-saw puzzle, coloring a Japanese flag, coloring the map of Japan, color a Japanese scene, looking at story books, playing "Sakura" with the bells, dressing up a cardboard doll with fabric and/or tissue paper.  During group activity time, we walk on the line to the music of "Sakura," take turns at twirling the umbrella in different positions while the music plays, listen to a story and dramatize it where possible.  At the end of the week we cook tempura and eat. 
     The same formula was followed for the other countries chosen. Whatever has been introduced stays for the remaining time of the camp. Children are free to revisit each area and repeat activities learned the week before.  Parents brought artifacts to share - dolls, costumes, fan.  At the end of the camp, everyone came in international costume and we all had a feast with the parents who brought in ethnic food.
     Several years later, I suggested to the Board of Directors as a fund-raising project, to sponsor a Children's International Festival. We would invite past students as well as current ones.  The response was overwhelming.  Tickets were sold to the guests. The auditorium was decked up with flags hung from the ceiling, food brought in by parents was served.  Each class performed one folk dance of a country of their choice and guest entertainers danced or sang. It was so successful that it became a school annual event.  Once I left the school and founded my own, I started the tradition of celebrating Children's International Festival. The Festival was an avenue to bring the community together, to showcase each class, to learn more about another country and just to have fun as a school.
     Going beyond the song and dance routine, the festival conveys a deeper meaning to me.  Let's go back to the song, let's read the first verse:

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears.
It's a world of hopes, it's a world of fear.
There’s so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
it's a small world after all

     Turn to your neighbor and ask: 
     What makes you happy? Sad? Afraid? Hopeful?

    Let's compare notes.  We are happy about the same things, sad about the same things, concerned, fearful about the same things and hopeful about the same things.  People all over the world are just like us. We have the same basic needs:
     Physical needs - food, clothing, shelter, warmth, health,
            light, safety
     Emotional/Social needs - to be accepted, to feel kinship or      
            sense of belonging, to see beauty
     Mental Needs - need to know, understand, communicate, 
            to be challenged
     Spiritual needs - to believe in something greater than                                 
            oneself, self realization, to lead a significant life.

    Let's read the second verse:  
                             There is just one moon and one golden sun
                            And a smile means friendship to everyone.
    Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all.

     It is quite meaningful to realize that the moon I see while I'm in Miami is the same moon I saw while I was in Fatima.  We belong to the same solar system, see the same sun and the same moon.  Although we are one planet, the geography is such that we are separated by mountains and rivers and oceans.  These natural barriers isolated us from one another so that we developed our own language and unique ways of living, our culture. From unity we have diversity. We may differ in the way we look, the color of our skin, the way we eat, dress, worship, - we bear in mind that not one color is superior to the other,  not one religion is truer than the other. We are all one, it's a small world after all. 

     Let's go over the fundamental needs of people and how we meet them:
     Food - book, "Bread, Bread, Bread"  by Ann Morris.
     Clothes - book, "Hat, Hat, Hat," by Ann Morris.
     Spiritual need - book, "The Kids Book of World Religions,"
            by Jennifer Glossop
     Art - book, "International Folk Crafts," by Ginger Scribner

     The social unit whether it is the family, community or culture seeks ways to form a cohesive group.  It is for this reason that festivals are celebrated to remind us of important events in our culture - Independence Day, Passover, fiestas. Songs, stories, proverbs, poems, dances, jokes -  shared by the community strengthen group identity and succinctly state the culture's values.
     The path of an individual in one's culture is in stages: In the first stage, one is a learner, an apprentice.  During the second stage, one is an active participant, a contributor to the welfare of the community.  During the third stage, one is a teacher whose duty is to pass on values, attitudes and skills to the next generation.
       Though the mountains divide and our oceans are wide, we have bridged across these barriers.  We now have a greater opportunity to be aware of other people's culture. Our awareness of the Native American Culture awakens in us the feeling that the earth is our mother, what happens to the earth, affects us all. From our American culture, we understand that indeed this is the land of opportunity but we need to work hard to benefit.  Our value of industry and work ethic are our core values.  Thriftiness is quite obvious with the Chinese culture.  Respect for elders is found in most Asian cultures.  The sacredness of things is practiced in India. Show of affection, love of family, beauty of form, cleanliness, politeness - all these are emphasized in one culture or another.  It's not that we do not practice these values but these values are more clearly seen in some cultures.  
     What values and skills are we passing on?  How do we accomplish this task?  Is it difficult to do?  Why or why not?
     What values should we stop passing on?  Please write two values you are passing on and two you are not passing down the next generation on the card provided.
     What does the phrase "It's a small world after all" mean to you?  
     As the world gets smaller, yes, we need more food, water, clean air, space, but what the world needs more than anything is love.


No comments:

Post a Comment