Cultural Exchange Across the Pacific - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Cultural Exchange Across the Pacific

Posted on February 13, 2011

by Dr. Edna Hussey on February 13, 2011

Seven elementary teachers from seven different schools in Korea visited our classrooms this past week. Organized by the Center for Asia-Pacific Exchange, the purpose of the visit was for our colleagues from Korea to observe our instructional practices and share some of their cultural traditions with the children. CAPE's mission is to promote mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation among countries in the Pacific region (Australia, Thailand, Japan, Fiji, Burma, to name a few) by providing opportunities for professional collaboration, interchange, and research. This was their first trip outside of Korea and their first to a U.S. school. The teachers visited every elementary classroom, including the specialists' classes. If you check some of the classroom teachers' current postings, you'll find some wonderful descriptions and photos of the visit. The most poignant moment of their visit was at the assembly on Thursday where we gathered to officially welcome our guests.

The fifth graders prepared a short slide presentation about Korea and linked some of the information to their inquiry on immigration. In anticipation of the visit, Ms. Koshi had taught our students Korea's unofficial national anthem, Arirang. As soon as the children began singing, our visitors cried softly, reminded of their homeland and touched by the sweetness of the children's voices -- "Just as there many stars in the clear sky, There are also many dreams in our heart" (translation of a verse). The emotional tide also swept across the MPI faculty and staff and, I'm sure, our students, though they continued to sing with profound expression. Throughout our guests' three-day visit, I was struck by our students' demonstration of genuine interest and respect for the teachers. Every student learned something about the Korean culture, from taekwondo and mask-making to games and paper folding. Although the teachers return to Korea next week, we hope to develop some shared inquiry projects with their students. Truly a mutually beneficial experience for us and them.

I strongly encourage every parent, from preschool through elementary, to attend the free showing of Race to Nowhere, a controversial documentary about high-stakes education and its emotional and physical impact on children as early as elementary school. The Parent Community Association (PCA) is sponsoring the viewing this Thursday evening, February 17, 6:30pm, in Bakken Auditorium. Please be advised that the content of this film is not appropriate for preschool and elementary children.

Following the 85-minute film, you'll hear commentary from a panel of specialists and be able to ask questions. All three principals will be available to answer questions, as well as representatives from the Board of Trustees, and any faculty in attendance.

On Friday (a non-school day), all MPI faculty will participate in professional development sessions in a schoolwide effort to focus on improving instructional practice, an essential goal in the Schools of the Future initiative. The faculty will also view Race to Nowhere and participate in an online discussion about the film.

Please remind grandparents to rsvp by February 18 to the invitation they received for Grandparents' Day on February 25. It promises to be another memorable celebration in honor of our kupuna.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey