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Originally posted July 9, 2012
Global Gardens students at Rosa Parks Elementary are passing out passports and inviting others to travel the world during the Global Moonlight Party tonight, July 9, from 6-9 p.m. in the garden.
The party is a student-initiated cultural fest that came out of year-long project where students in the Global Gardens after school program each chose a country to represent and took on the role as a goodwill ambassador.
Families are invited to participate in this event that will highlight 20 students. From 6-7 p.m., there will be activities, including making Guatemalan worry dolls, a family coat of arms and recycled toys. From 7-8 p.m., there will be food including Turkish red lentil soup, Australian sunshine salad, Israeli flourless chocolate cake, and much more. From 8-9 p.m., there will be dancing including the merengue and circle dances. The event is free and open to the public.
The goodwill ambassador project came out of a conversation in the fall when a new student from Vietnam arrived at the school and was being bullied by other students. Although Rosa Parks has a significant immigrant population it was evident that there were still many misconceptions and stereotypes about people from other countries that we are unfamiliar with, explains Global Gardens educator Annie Ferris.
With peace education at the core of the Global Gardens curriculum Ferris was determined to turn the situation into a learning opportunity.
“It’s easy to understand how food is a basic connecter around the world so it’s a nice tool to showcase that with students. Cooking is always something that is really exciting in our program,” Ferris said.
The Goodwill Ambassador project was kicked off with the help of another Tulsan who is using food to travel the world from her kitchen table, Sasha Martin of the Global Table Adventure. Martin introduced the students to Japan through some of her favorite recipes and students spent the afternoon learning about Japanese culture. Martin’s own project inspired the students and set the stage for a year-long global adventure.
Although food was a central theme, students explored dance, music and other cultural activities. “Seeing how the students connected to the Guatemalan worry dolls was a big one for me. Through that process students opened up about parents in prison, stress at school, worrying about their siblings and so on,” says Annie. “When another country’s traditional parallels so well to things on in our own lives – hope flags, evil eyes, worry dolls – they are all the same thing really. Working together for the same idea: the hope for safe happy lives.”
Global Gardens, a nonprofit educational organization, is dedicated to empowering low-income students and communities through the process of creating community gardens. By establishing progressive student-centered garden spaces, individuals are empowered to live healthier lives and become agents of change in their communities.