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James Clemens expo explores cultures

During the Global Heritage Exposition, James Clemens High School students demonstrate a dance from the Philippines. CONTRIBUTED
During the Global Heritage Exposition, James Clemens High School students demonstrate a dance from the Philippines. CONTRIBUTED
MADISON – Traditions and customs of Germany, Ireland, the Philippines and Italy were among the cultural smorgasbord at the Global Heritage Exposition at James Clemens High School.
The expo on Nov. 22 solidified an effort by James Clemens students to spread awareness and understanding of different cultures. Exhibits and demos were staged in the auditorium, landing and courtyard.
“The expo included exhibits that best reflect the cultural richness of our community,” Public Relations Manager John Peck said.
“James Clemens’ students and teachers aim to promote cultural awareness and foster a relationship between students’ cultural roots and knowledge of classroom disciplines,” event coordinator and social science teacher Patrice ODonnell said.
The event allowed students to connect the lessons from classroom study with their lifestyles and heritage from home, ODonnell said. They sampled ethnic food, watched traditional dances and viewed exhibits.
For the Ellis Island exhibit, students received a card with an immigrant’s name, home country, birth date and reason for emigrating.
Students were given a brief medical exam by biomedical students, took a mental acuity test and a literacy test, according to a James Clemens student. Those students who didn’t pass were sent to the deportation area and sent back to their country of origin.
Immigrants who passed the test then viewed a map of the United States and were shown where people from their home country settled — Germans in the Midwest, Irish and Italian in northeastern cities. This process was very similar to the interrogation and medical exams the real immigrants experienced, a student said.
Other exhibits showed Southern culture, African American contributions to America, Indian mendhi painting, Mexican Day of the Dead, Chinese New Year and breads from around the world.
Sharon Rowland’s students prepared a large wall map, along with an online map, for students to pin their country of origin. Under each pin online, a video story portrayed the student’s family.
Reaction to the Global Heritage Exposition was positive. One James Clemens student said, “We really needed this (event), especially after the election.”

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