Step into Courtney Sullivan and Felicia Tripoli’s junior kindergarten class and enjoy your ticket to a world of discovery. A corner of the classroom has been dedicated to the “Global Studies Center.”
“We have designed a space where students are introduced to some parts of the
world and get a glimpse of what they may experience if visiting another country,” explains Ms. Tripoli. “We have taken geography and layered it with artifacts, photos and books the children could actively engage in.”
The students have visited countries, including Mexico, India and Korea, and have learned how to respect the value of these cultural items. Ms. Tripoli shared that even at age 4, students have a great retention level of information after each interactive presentation, and they can often share what they’ve learned by heart.
Currently on display is Thailand. Meika Owen ’35 says it is her favorite place so far because she has learned how to play a singing bowl and that Thailand is home to the bumblebee bat, the world’s smallest of its kind.
Every three weeks, the center is changed out, and as soon as the “Under Construction” sign is posted, students will eagerly ask, “Where are we going next?”
The center instills a passion for discovering other cultures and affirms the unique identity of the student body.
Junior kindergarten families are encouraged to share their culture and traditions. Parents have enriched the center with cherished cultural items. “It has been very impactful and almost a healing process for the parents. Felicia has gone above and beyond in her research and connecting with families,” shares Maria Curtis, director of the Early Childhood Center.
Families have loaned items such as hanbok (traditional clothing of Korea) as well as a tabla drum and tiffin food carrier from India. “We couldn’t have traveled to new destinations if it wasn’t for their [the parents’] willingness to share their countries with us,” says Ms. Tripoli.
The vision is to expand the Global Studies Center for all junior kindergarten students. Ms. Tripoli envisions the center growing stronger in content with hopes that families in any division can share their cultural backgrounds through books, traditional outfits, instruments, games and other artifacts with the students.