The world came to Washington-Kosciusko Elementary on Thursday morning.
More than 70 Winona State University international students from more than
a dozen countries visited the school
and shared culture, history and other facts with the elementary-school students.
Joseph Reed, WSU’s international services activity coordinator, said the event is part of the required outreach international students must complete each year to receive in-state tuition. While WSU has held a global expo for about a decade, Reed said, this was the first held off-campus in the past few years.
“It works so much better when we go out to the schools,” Reed said. “At Winona State, we don’t have the kind of free space for an event like this. They do.”
Reed said the international students relish the chance to connect with students and share their cultures, and that the expo helps build an understanding of diversity.
“The students and children are the people who can benefit each other the most,” he said.
Groups of international students set up displays in a classroom with different classes going from group to group. After each session, children were able to place the sticker or stickers of the countries they learned about in a mock passport showing the countries they visited.
The first group to visit with international students from Kenya was a class of fourth-grade students. They learned about the Kenyan flag, learned a few phrases in Swahili and practiced jumping and chanting like Maasai ethnic tribes. But what really got their attention was that the name Simba from “The Lion King” is the Swahili term for lion.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Kenyan international student Ashley Sims. “It’s an interesting way for kids to see other countries.”
At another session Thursday morning, second-grader Alexa Frank learned about Taiwan and Japan and was taught how to make two different origami figures. Frank said she really liked learning how to do the paper folding and turned her purple square of paper into a dog she named Sadie.
Another second-grader in the session, Josh Wright, also enjoyed making origami.
“The origami was pretty,” Wright said. “I liked making the boat.”