17 April 2016

International Spy Reports: Elementary International Festival

My son's school has gone global! In fact, they're converting to dual immersion, starting with this year's kindergarten class. Two years too late for him, alas (but in plenty of time for Sister)!

Paolo is still enjoying some benefits of the global focus, however. For instance, each grade level got a continent to focus on this year: second grade got Australia. It's pretty exciting hearing him going on about the different animals and food and trivia he's learned on our morning walks to school. Fairy bread, vegemite, echidnas and koala cams have made the biggest impressions so far.

But perhaps the most exciting part is the culmination of all of the focus: The North Newton International Festival.

And I missed it!

But never fear. I had a handful of international spies who submitted to interviews upon my return.

Spy #1: Overview

They had student projects on display. Each grade had a different continent, and everywhere but Antarctica was represented. You could learn about goats on trees down one hall, or you could learn about North America down another hall, or you could learn about Australia down another hall--different wings of the school divided into different continents.

What formats were the projects in?
Lots of them were trifolds--the vast majority of them were trifolds. But there were also goats on trees. There were some posters. Different grades did different things.

Goats on trees?

It was a large poster that had cut-out goats on a hand-drawn tree, and it was enormous, with goats-in-tree facts. In the Africa section, because apparently that's where goats like to go in Africa.

One of the Africa posters had the big 5 animals made out of toilet paper tubes. And then goats on trees. And castles made out of toilet paper tubes, and the kindergartners made Venetian masks. In the South America section, they had Shakira flakes and Pele wheaties. They had cereal boxes with people.

And in the Australia section, one kid had put a big cutout of Albert Einstein because he was from Australia, and I was like, "wait a second."

And in the library there were crafts from several different countries. But the most important thing was that there was food.

Each food had a description with the name and the food, what was in it, and a little fact/blurb history thing about the food. Two whole rows of tables, the entire length of the cafeteria was set up with food from different countries all around the world. There was baklava, curry, Mexican rice and beans, tamales, Punjabi biscuits, various little Russian crackers and cookies, fairy bread from Australia, some Italian cheesecake type stuff with berries on it, and hot dogs--but you had to buy those.

So every visitor was given three tickets to trade for a tasty food.

Oh, there was also some mole chicken.

Spy #2: Infiltrator

What did you do at the festival?
I tried spiky cookies with no M&Ms in it.

Did you do anything fun?
I got to make a mask. A sparkly mask. But I have to leave it there til it dries.

Did you learn anything at the festival?
I got to see some leftover boxes with pictures of people on them from cereal. And I saw a board, and it had Mexico on it, like Bubba's board. And Bubba made a rolling toilet paper thing. I don't know what it is [note: it was a didgeridoo]. And he painted the toilet paper thing. And I got to see little round toilet paper animals that are cute. And they had long noses for the elephant! And that was funny and cute! And I saw a little tiger, little rolling things from the toilet paper. And it was cute and funny!

Spy #3: Inside Man

What did you create for the festival?
I made a project, and I presented at my school in class. And it was really good. I got a very long round of applause, and I didn't need my cards. (I couldn't use them because I lost them.)

Tell me more about what was on your project.
There was a picture--one of my favorite pictures--of a dumb koala opening it's mouth like "uhhh" while eating a leaf. Another one of my favorites was a wombat, because all the wombat is doing is standing there like a furry pig eating begytabals [note: subject was very explicit on spelling here]. And there is a beautiful picture of the Daintree Rain Forest. It's beautiful because it has a pond surrounded by eucalyptus. And I think there is another dumb koala in the background.

What did you learn from creating your project?
That Queensland houses the world's best collection of dino tracks. Oh yeah, and people who live in Queensland, Australia are called Banana Benders because of large banana plantations in the tropics. Oo, and some houses are so modern and new in the city of Queensland that they look like hotels.

Is there anything you learned about how you should do a project?
If you use the same trifold, just cover it. And if you're studying Australia, do red or blue wrapping paper. If you don't have enough room because your mom or dad prints too big, then cut and separate or throw some things away.

Did you learn anything about research?
No, I did not. Except for Wikipedia. You can use Wikipedia for research and some really crazy facts. But some facts were kind of inappropriate--not inappropriate, they were too facty. They were mega facts.

How did your classmates do on their creations?
They did pretty good. Most of my friends did really good, but some of my friends that were in my class did a bad job because it was really short, and they didn't have enough factyness in it.

What did other grades create?

  • Kindergarten - it was probably Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and some more Italy. Italian stuff. The Greek stuff they just made like the front of the Parthenon. They left out the inappropriate stuff, so they were wearing clothes. And they took a picture of people's faces. Then they glued it to the body. And for Scotland, they did books about Loch Ness Monster, AKA Nessy.
  • First Grade - they did African things with Anansi the tricker--trickster. And they made African monsters. Some people who were really good drawers made really good drawings. Well, the teacher probably made the outline, and they colored on it with reverse paper.
  • Third and Fourth Grade - I don't know what they did.
  • Fifth Grade - they did Mexican writers and singers, and one of the writers looked like Albert Einstein, except he was chubbier.

Which grade had the best creations and why?
Second grade did the best because they were the first ones who did trifolds, and it looked way awesomer than the fifth grade trifolds because there were more beautiful pictures on the trifolds. There were absolutely no pictures on the fifth grade trifolds or fourth or third trifolds. Well, there was one picture on one trifold.

What activities did you participate in at the festival?
The only activities that I competed in was trying foods (some were disgusting) and making a windmill. And I'm working right now on a God's (apostrophe s) eye.

What other activities were available?
Trying on Asian suits, dresses, things. Yeah, suits. Asian clothes.

And Spy #2?
She did a drawing--a very beautiful drawing--but Oma did the outline. But Lena just colored it in with paint. It looked really beautiful. It was like a beautiful vomit-colored thing, except not really vomit colored.

Which activity was the best?
Making a windmill because I glued and I cut and I got to stab myself with a fastener on accident.

How was the tasting set up?
It was set up on tables, but they did not have (disgusting) vegamite. It was free. And I didn't want to try much, but I tried a wafer of some sort that was German, I think. Everything was free, but you did have to pay with tickets.

Did you taste anything else?
No, just fairy bread. And I knew I liked fairy bread. I had Lena's fairy bread, because she tried a bite and didn't like it. I tried two wafers because I had two tickets left.

What did you learn at the festival?
That Albert Einstein was born in Australia, but he was German.

He was born in Austria.
They messed up, because there was a picture of Albert Einstein in Australia

Do you think other people should have international festivals at their schools?
Yes. Because you get to taste things, get to make things, get to learn a lot of things.


As you can see from my spies' enthusiasm, a school-wide international festival is an EXCELLENT way to engage the community and promote cultural curiosity for all. Key elements of a successful festival include beautiful photos, opportunities to create, cute toilet paper tubes, and of course FOOD.

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