A hallmark of CREECA’s mission is to serve as a resource on Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, and Central Asia for educators and the broader community. One way we achieve this goal is by igniting an interest and appreciation for CREECA languages and cultures among Wisconsin students (K-12) at key outreach events in the community. In the spirit of November’s International Education Week, members of CREECA volunteered their time to represent the region at two key advocacy events: Kennedy Elementary School International Celebration Night and IRIS World Appreciation Day.
International Celebration Night – November 18, 2019
At Kennedy Elementary School’s fourth annual International Celebration Night, 40 students (4K-8th grade) and their parents visited more than 20 country-specific tables to learn about languages, cultures, and traditions from around the world. CREECA staff and students volunteered as linguistic-cultural ambassadors for the occasion, representing Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Russia, and Uzbekistan. After volunteer ambassadors stamped students’ “Kennedy Passport” – their memento of the evening – volunteers then engaged students with cultural activities and introduced them to everyday words and phrases in the country’s national language.
“It was an amazing event! Students learned their names and colors in Russian. We played with a matryoshka doll and did a puzzle with views of St. Petersburg.”
–Elena Onegina, Wisconsin Russian Project visiting scholar (fall 2019)
“This experience was unique because it is so rare to work with both students and their parents at the same time. I had a chance to talk about Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, teach children how to write their names in Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, and answer parents’ questions about the sociolinguistic landscape of Central Asia.”
—Madina Djuraeva, PhD candidate in Curriculum & Instruction
World Appreciation Day – November 20, 2019
Hosted by the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS), the fifth annual World Appreciation Day gave 20 educators and 300 middle-schoolers the opportunity to experience some of the richness of the world’s cultures through intensive, engaging internationally focused activities led by UW-Madison students, staff, and faculty. The CREECA region was well represented: Łukasz Wodzyński, assistant professor in GNS, offered beginning-level Polish lessons in one break-out session, while another group joined faculty associate Nâlân Erbil for Turkish lessons and a traditional goat dance. Middle-schoolers were also introduced to folkloric figures based on the cartoon “Ivashka from Pioneer’s Hall” (“Ивашка из дворца пионеров”) in an activity facilitated by Laura Marshall (Russian Flagship Program coordinator), Masha Kustova, (PhD student, Slavic Languages and Literature), and Sarah Linkert (CREECA assistant director and outreach coordinator).
“The students all participated enthusiastically and seemed to have fun while learning about Baba Yaga and Koshchei Bessmertny.”
—Sarah Linkert, CREECA assistant director and outreach coordinator