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Posted May 25, 2022 in Articles

Now boarding international flight LL0429 to… everywhere!

Students in grades 9–12 busted out their passports to attend the Around the World Diversity Block Party last month. Now in its third year, this full-day learning experience promoted global citizenship through a celebration of art, music, and culture. The trip itinerary, which was planned by Director of Campus Life, Diversity and Inclusion ReGinae Reynolds, took travelers around the globe with stops highlighting many cultures.

Reynolds explained, “As part of our diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging efforts at Lawrence, we continually strive to bring our school community together—building and fostering an environment of inclusion where differences are celebrated. This wonderful event is an encapsulation of that work. By the end of the day, every student felt as if they had crisscrossed continents and left school with a greater appreciation for the cultures around them.”

Ready for Takeoff

More than just educational, this was a memorable experience for all, especially the class of 2022 who teamed up with faculty and staff to run each station.

“Working with underclassmen was a great leadership opportunity for our seniors! It was wonderful to see how eager the kids were to participate in each activity,” said Senior Advisor Sarah Schrag.

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Navajo Sand Art: The Navajo believe the holy figures in sand painting absorb ailments and provide relief. Students created their own designs.

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African Masks: Masks serve an important role in many African rituals and ceremonies with purposes that vary from ensuring a good harvest to addressing tribal needs in times of war. Students designed their own mask.

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Hebrew Alphabet: The Torah, Judaism’s religious text, is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Students learned to write their first name using Hebrew characters.

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Henna Tattoos: Students learned the meaning behind henna tattoos, which in the Hindu religion, are used to mark special occasions. They also had the opportunity to receive one of these semi-permanent body decorations themselves. Science teacher Bill Gocinski shared, “Many students enjoyed showcasing their individuality by designing their own henna pattern.”

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Paprikash Prep: Students took part in a hands-on cooking class using a Hungarian recipe for chicken paprikash.

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Yoga: A mind and body practice, originating out of India, yoga combines physical posture, breathing, and meditation. Students participated in a mini yoga session to learn how to utilize these helpful techniques.

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Quesadillas: Originating in central and northern Mexico, the literal meaning of quesadilla is “little cheesy thing.” Students learned to make these delicious treats and sampled their culinary creations.

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Drum Circle: Drum circles are improvisational and do not require prior musical knowledge or skills. Students discussed the history of drum circles and played the basic lamba rhythm along with current pop hits. “African rhythms have influenced western music for years, including many of today’s most popular songs, making this a great activity to spur discussion of cultural awareness, appreciation, appropriation, and distortion,” said Director of Middle School Greg Donnellan.

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Hacky Sack: From Malaysia, sepak takraw (the Malay term for hacky sack) is a fun sport that involves kicking a bean bag and keeping it off the ground for as long as possible. Physical education teacher Mr. John Thompson told us, “Students were surprised to learn where hacky sack originated and really enjoyed showing off their skills in a quick game.”

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Paper Lanterns: Through the creation of paper lanterns, which symbolize vitality and good luck in China, students contributed to a cohesive, collaborative art installation.

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After visiting each station, there was still one last “flight” to catch when the gymnasium transformed into a tasting kitchen with samples of many foreign countries’ most famous fare. From Chinese White Rabbit candy to English biscuits and South African ceres mango juice, our globe-trotters discovered plenty of new flavors. One that didn’t spur requests for second tastings? Vegemite from Australia.

“This was one of the best days I’ve had at Lawrence,” junior Manny said. “We got to learn about different cultures and understand more about the world. It showed how our lives are different from others, and that’s a really cool thing!”

During the event, teachers and students also collaborated on a group art piece celebrating differences within our Lion pride. The finished work, pictured below, now hangs near the Red Commons and acts as a daily reminder of how our community is only enriched by the diverse collection of beliefs, traditions, and experiences we bring to campus.

Ready for Takeoff

Ready for Takeoff

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