SVSU’s English Language Program (ELP) hosted a Passport to the World event for over 90 students from Bay City’s Kolb Elementary School on Friday, Nov. 2.
The event takes place every year, although usually in April. This year, the event planners decided to organize an additional program due to previous years’ overwhelmingly positive response.
Passport to the World has previously hosted schools from Bay City and Saginaw, and the ELP staff hopes to expand to Midland and other nearby cities.
“We chose third graders because they’re so curious,” said Amy Cook, the assistant director of the English Language Program. “They love learning, and they get excited about things. They’re more likely to participate in activities than older students.”
The activities, which largely remain the same from year to year to lessen the stress of planning, included an opening ceremony, story time, yoga with SVSU’s kinesiology students, country activity tables, a tour of the Marshall Fredericks Museum and a sculpting project.
“I really liked the opening ceremony because our own SVSU students came in waving the flags of our represented countries,” Cook said.
The countries featured during the activity tables portion were chosen according to what international students were available and included Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and Nepal, among others.
During this activity, students traveled between tables with their own pretend passports, each of which were personalized with a picture of the student. They saw examples of traditional dress, flags, currency, cities and food. Students even had the chance to learn several words in other languages.
“We love seeing the kids get to interact and learn about different cultures,” said Karen Schultheiss, one of the Kolb Elementary teachers present.
The other volunteers, coming from a variety of different programs across campus, were equally excited for the students.
Cook said she hoped students would gain an appreciation for other cultures and come away from the event more thoughtful about the world around them.
“I hope that they see the similarities and differences across cultures and start thinking about making friends abroad,” she said. “It’s very important that they have the opportunity to learn about other countries. … It went smoothly, and the kids had fun. That’s all that matters.”