Different cultures, same applications

2010-05-21T00:00:00Z Different cultures, same applications ZACH BENOIT Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
May 21, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The difference between chopsticks and a fork isn’t the point.

The bottom line Thursday at St. Francis Primary School was that the American and Chinese utensils have the same purpose, even though they come from different cultures.

“We both manage to eat and we both have utensils, but they’re just a little different,” said Cindy Kunz, administrator of Rocky Mountain College’s Institute for Peace Studies. “The whole thing is that while we are different and unique and special, we have more in common than we do differences.”

Classrooms throughout the school learned about the global community through a cultural diversity outreach program sponsored by the Institute for Peace Studies.

About 20 youngsters in Ashley Johnson’s first-grade classroom got a 45-minute introduction to foreign traditions — and their similarities to American traditions — from Kunz and a pair of international Rocky students. Kunz’s parents are Italian immigrants.

“We have so many different programs that affect so many different people,” said Anudari Batjargal, a Rocky freshman from Mongolia who is studying aviation management.

The kids learned about languages, music, flags and their purposes and a few other tidbits from Kunz, Batjargal and Hungarian student Andris Varhelyi, who is working toward his master’s degree in accounting.

They then read the kids the book “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” in English, Mongolian and Hungarian to show them that, even though the language was different, it was still the same story. “I learned lots of things about lots of different places,” said 7-year-old Vanessa Tilzey.

At the end of the presentation, each student was invited to the Institute of Peace Study’s Festival of Cultures, scheduled for June 13 at Rocky, which features food, crafts and entertainment from around the world.

As students Sydney Stiles and Benjamin Schaak, both 7, sat coloring personalized tickets to the festival handed out by Batjargal, they talked about their favorite parts of the presentation. Sydney said the current activity — coloring in the various faces of people from around the world — was tops for her. “And I liked the part when they showed us music from other countries,” Benjamin said.

Members of the institute have done presentations in about 70 classrooms this school year, from Shepherd to Bridger, Kunz said. They will continue the presentations at St. Francis Primary today.

“We want them to know that it doesn’t matter what color you are or where you’re from,” Principal Karen Petermann said. “We’re all God’s children.”

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