Manorhaven students explore Japanese culture


Manorhaven Elementary School students practice writing Japanese characters at a workshop

Gaby Chu, Staff Writer

During the week of Feb. 22, Manorhaven Elementary School held its 28th annual cultural studies week.  Each year, the school focuses on a different country, teaching the students about the culture and traditions of that nation.  In the past, students have explored customs from places such as China, Russia, and Mexico. This year, students spent a week studying Japan, delving into Japanese life with classroom and interactive activities.

Every section of the school was transformed to host this event for the students. Bulletin boards were decorated with facts about the history and culture of Japan, which teachers used to help with their lessons.  Students also participated in a Japanese-themed scavenger hunt.  The library was turned into a Shinto shrine, where students gathered to hear a Japanese folktale and build their own mini Zen gardens and Kabuki masks.  They were also able to practice the art of origami, explore musical dramas, and use an interactive map game to virtually travel through Japan.  Students even got to participate in a food workshop, where they made rice balls and learned to use chopsticks.

“I remember Cultural Studies Week when I was at Manorhaven.  I loved being able to devote a whole week to learning about different cultures, eating and making food from that country, going to the library that changed each year, and dancing and listening to music from all over the world,” said junior Alexa Adjudanpor.

The week also involved collaboration with the community.  The Long Island Science Museum brought Japanese scientific advancements to life, as they helped each class investigate the importance of volcanoes, electronics, robotics, seismic technology, and Japan’s diverse wildlife.  They even allowed the students to program Dash robots.  Graduate students from LIU Post visited the school and gave lessons that showcased Japan’s culture.    Port Washington’s Elite Martial Arts’ Julian Secu brought karate to the school, as the students learned from him during their gym classes. 

“Cultural Studies Week was an excellent way to get young students involved and educated about different parts of the world,” said junior Julia Bischoff.  “I wish that the other elementary schools would host something similar as well.  It’s a very valuable lesson.”  

The event was started by a group of parents and teachers led by the retired principal of Manorhaven, Dr. Linda Welles.  Her goal was to create an event where children could learn about foreign countries in order to recognize that people really are not that different.  She hoped it would teach peace and how to be a citizen of the world, not just the United States.  

“Teaching young children about culture from different parts of the world is more important now than ever,” said junior Frank DiCaro.  “It’s amazing to see that Manorhaven really cares about creating an inclusive and educated environment.”  

The entire Manorhaven school community worked extremely hard to put together this event for the students.  Teachers, parents, and volunteers collaborate for months in advance to prepare by transforming both the school itself and classroom lessons to match the specific country.

“It was incredible this year because of the amazing participation from the PTA committees which included many Japanese parents who helped plan authentic activities for students to truly experience Japanese culture,” said committee chair Ms. Bridge Green.  “Our Japanese students were so proud all week long.”  

Even parents were encouraged to participate in the event.  There were open house nights where parents could come with their children to continue learning and experiencing Japanese culture for themselves.

“All the parents and staff working so hard to put this together just shows how dedicated they are to this event,” said junior Karen Kohama.  “I’m really happy to see the importance of learning about different cultures being taken seriously, while still being made enjoyable for the kids.”