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Fink students learn about countries from around the globe

By David Barr
Posted 5/10/17

Anastasia Cerritelli had a little help in deciding what she wanted to do for a career from a young age.

She came to the United States from Ukraine at age 7 without knowing any English, but her …

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Fink students learn about countries from around the globe


Anastasia Cerritelli had a little help in deciding what she wanted to do for a career from a young age.

She came to the United States from Ukraine at age 7 without knowing any English, but her first-grade teacher didn’t give up on her and continued to work with Cerritelli on her English. The work and effort by her teacher made an impression on Cerritelli.

“I knew from then on, I wanted to be a teacher,” Cerritelli said.

On Friday, May 5, the Fink kindergarten teacher shared her experience of briefly living in Ukraine as part of the first Cultural Day at Fink Elementary School. For Cultural Day, students were able to learn about eight countries — Ukraine, Indonesia, Burma, Mexico, China, Morocco, India and Ghana — as well as Puerto Rico.

The reason those particular countries were selected was due to the fact that there are students with familial and cultural ties to them at Fink. Students were given 15 to 20 minutes to learn aspects of each country, such as food, clothing and way of life.

Fink teacher Ashley Sabitsky was responsible for bringing Cultural Day to Fink this year. This was the first time for Fink to have such an event, where the countries presented could be showcased, and it gave students the opportunity to understand how and why they’re unique and learn about countries to which their classmates have ties.

Sabitsky recruited teachers, instructional aides and parents to be presenters and let them choose how they would present their material. She gave them some suggestions on what topics students would be most interested in, such as food, clothing, animals and weather.

“It was a complete team effort here,” Sabitsky said.

Some presenters chose to present their information via PowerPoint presentations and some were more hands-on. Because Friday was Cinco de Mayo, the Mexico presentation, taught by Michael Corney and Mindy Allison, included a crash course in why the holiday is celebrated and the impact it had on slavery in the United States.

Students were given a salsa-making lesson, which taught students the ingredients used, the Spanish translations for the ingredients, and how it’s made differently in the regions of Mexico.

Michael Checco, a music teacher for both Fink and Reid Elementary schools, was the Ghana presenter. He introduced the students to a music lesson involving instruments and songs from Ghana.

The instrument used by the students was called an adenkum, which is made of dried calabash gourds and used to create rhythmic accompaniment patterns to songs, according to Checco. Checco said he had the opportunity to study with two Ghanaian master drummers after participating in the World Music Drumming program beginning in 2006. The program provides professional development for teachers around the country who want to include traditional world music in their classroom.

“When I learned of the event that was being planned, I was eager to take the opportunity to share some of what I have learned with students and volunteered to run a station,” Checco said.

Aye Shoim and Handhung Nugroho were invited by Sabitsky to speak about Indonesia to students. Topics they touched on for students included schools, food, culture, clothing and the similarities and differences between Indonesia and the United States. Both agreed that the experience speaking on their homeland was beneficial and they would love to be invited back to speak again, should the opportunity arise.

Mafaza Nugroho, who is Shoim and Nugroho’s daughter, is a kindergarten student at Fink. She and her friend Mabel Ellsworth both picked Ukraine as their favorite country to learn about and said they both enjoyed the day’s activities because they got to learn new facts about different countries.

New or interesting facts definitely piqued the students’ interest. Fifth-grader Jace Rachau said he was fascinated by how far some residents of other countries must walk for water while carrying a heavy jug, which only gets heavier once water has been added to the jug. Interesting facts for Iangtawi Par were the different instruments that are made and played in Indonesia and how the Ukrainian fast-food restaurants have healthier options than the U.S. restaurants.