Boosting Cultural Awareness in After-School Programs

A healthy knowledge of other cultures is an essential element of education that teachers should always be looking to impart to their students. Doing so in a fun and engaging way, however, is often easier said than done. Here is an example of a simple exercise that is perfect for after-school programs.

Know Your Kids

In order to get your students really interested in an exercise that looks to boost cultural awareness it is essential that you make the task connect with them on a personal level. This means that the task you allocate to your students is one that will have some real resonance with their own interests. For some students this will be easier to do than with others, but if you don’t make a big effort from the outset to make this work properly, chances are that you are mostly going to be wasting everybody’s time.

The Fame Game

Basically all you are going to do is assign each student with a famous person and they will then go away and find out some information about that person and the country and the society from which they originally hail.

If, for example, you are looking to assign a person to one of your students who you know is captain of the soccer team, you may need to do a little bit of research yourself and find out who is recognised as the world’s best soccer player. The answer is Lionel Messi and he is from Argentina. If you are right about your student’s interests then it is almost certain that he/she will know who Messi is already and they will be excited about having being given one of their heroes as a topic for a presentation.

This is quite an easy match-up to make as you can be pretty sure that this student will be excited by the proposition, with others it will be more difficult. In cases where you are struggling to think of a good match, use your own initiative and chose a person that you know has an amazing story that your students might not initially be aware of, such as Mahatma Gandhi.

An important thing to remember here is that the famous person is really only the door that you are using in order to get information about the country and culture from which this person comes from. Emphasise to your students that you want only a very brief presentation on the person themselves and that your prime interest is in the place they come from.

You can give them pointers on which to follow in order to make the task easier at the outset, such as population, location, etc, but the point here is for them to discover information for themselves about the country and its culture.

Obviously you work closely with the students on this to make sure nothing insensitive or inappropriate is brought up, but if done properly this will turn into a really fun and enlightening task that all of the class will enjoy participating in.

By Alisha Webb. Alisha is a British writer working out of Barcelona and a content developer for York Notes – a specialist in revision books and guides on English literature.

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