Dr. Hill and students

International college students meet local children to share culture

Wofford students from around the world visit Fairforest Elementary School

International Fair 2016 382

For the fifth year, Fairforest Elementary Assistant Principal Kim Helle worked with International Programs at Wofford College to bring in college students from around the globe to share their language and culture with the children in her school. This year Wofford sent representatives from Rwanda, Ghana, Venezuela, China, South Korea and Germany.

“I think the kids loved it,” says Anna Katherine Wilson, a sophomore from Fort Mill, S.C., who works with the international affairs office as a peer mentor to exchange students. “Jinjing Chen, the Fulbright language assistant, presented to a class of adorable 5 and 6 year olds who ran up and gave her hugs when they saw her walking down the hall later. She obviously left an impression on them.”

Chen taught the students how to use chopsticks using pencils as examples. Eduardo Castillo, a first-year student from Venezuela, captivated his audience with a presentation on the animals of his country.

“The students were really interested in his country and South America as a whole, but especially in the animals of Venezuela,” says Wilson. “There were a few Spanish-speaking students in the class, and they seemed to feel a connection to his culture.”

Daniel Tuyisenge, a senior physics and mathematics double major with a minor in computer science, presented on traditional Rwandan clothing. Tuyisenge is attending Wofford as a Rwandan Presidential Scholar.

“I went to Fairforest Elementary School because I enjoy children. I wanted them to learn about my country,” says Tuyisenge.

John Bosco Bapoupeleh, a first-year student-athlete on the Wofford track and field team, says he heard that a student from Rwanda was speaking and he wanted the children to realize that Africa is made up of many different languages and cultures.

“The reason why I wanted to speak at the elementary school was because several other students talked about Rwanda, and I wanted to share another perspective,” says Bapoupeleh. “The most important thing I wanted the kids to know about Ghana is that, even though it doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to health care or economics, it’s still an awesome part of Africa.”

Wilson believes these experiences are valuable because they open minds to different peoples and cultures at an early age.

“The students at Fairforest Elementary School were introduced to people who come from completely different cultural backgrounds. They learned that people from outside of the United States are friendly and their countries are cool,” says Wilson. “These experiences also are good for the Wofford students. It's important for us to experience the community that surrounds Wofford. Plus hanging out with fun, silly elementary school students makes for a wonderful afternoon!”

by Katie Sanders, Wofford Class of 2017