Western Kentucky University

Office of International Programs

WKU International Students share cultures at Lost River Elementary

Lost River Elementary School tapped into the wealth of WKU international students to enhance International Night on March 26.

WKU international students shared their cultures with students at Lost River Elementary School on March 26.

WKU international students shared their cultures with students at Lost River Elementary School during International Night on March 26. (Photo by Diana Howard)

WKU students and scholars from China, India and Saudi Arabia dressed in their traditional clothing and volunteered their time to share their cultures with the elementary school children. Smiles abounded as the WKU students and scholars wrote the children’s names in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Telugu.

“When WKU participates in local international festivals, it is our goal to add to the overall educational experience for the children. Our students come from all over the world to study at WKU, sharing their culture gives them a sense of pride and connection to their homeland,” said Diana Howard, International Outreach Coordinator with International Student and Scholar Services. “There is a tremendous amount of diversity within the elementary schools here in Bowling Green. Last night, we met children from America, Bosnia, Burma, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. Seeing the faces of the children light up as they learn something new about a faraway land is a beautiful thing. It’s really an exchange of cultures, we learn from the children as they learn from us.”

Mohmmed Aldaghri and Sultan Alamri, students from Saudi Arabia, shared their culture by dressing in their traditional clothing. They wore thawbs which are white, full-length, loose garments with long sleeves. On their heads, they wore kufeyas, shumaghs and igals. Kufeyas are white cotton hats worn directly over the hair to keep the shumagh from sliding off. The shumagh is a square-shaped cotton fabric embroidered with white and red threads that is folded into a triangle shape on top of the head. The igal is a double black rope-like cord that is worn in order to hold the shumagh in place. As a symbol of their culture, Mohmmed and Sultan brought a beautiful coffee pot, Saudi coffee and dates to share at the event. Aldaghri and Alamri enjoyed meeting the children and writing their names in Arabic.

A group of WKU international students visited Lost River Elementary School on March 26.

A group of WKU international students visited Lost River Elementary School on March 26. (Photo by Diana Howard)

Lan Xu, Shana Ma and Xu Qien, scholars from the Confucius Institute, entertained and educated the children about China by sharing traditional Chinese toys and games, clothing, Chinese map, calligraphy brushes, fans, and a popular stuffed panda. Many of the children enjoyed the challenge of playing with the traditional Chinese toys and holding the colorful fans. The items sparked many questions from the curious students and the children were delighted to see their names written in Chinese.

Neelima Gajavilli and Urmila Tokekar, WKU graduate students from India, dressed in salwar kameez. The salwar is a sort of loose pyjama-like trousers. The legs are wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. The kameez is a long shirt with side seams left open at the naval for ease of movement. Gajavilli wrote the children’s names in Telugu which is her native language from Andhra Pradesh in the southern part of India. Tokekar wrote the children’s names in Hindi which is the official language of India.

“I really enjoyed sharing my native language and culture with kids.  It was priceless to see their excited faces,” Gajavilli said.

More: Additional photos are available on the WKU Facebook page.

Contact:  Diana Howard, International Outreach Coordinator with International Student and Scholar Services (270) 745-2319.

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