University of Vermont

School-wide event at JJ Flynn brings Thai and Chinese culture to students

Visiting Scholars Nattida and Beau show students how to write their name in Thai

The four Visiting Scholars from Thailand visited JJ Flynn Elementary School and St-Joe’s elementary school during January 24 and January 25 to help the students learn about Thai culture in activities that included arts and crafts, making delicious Thai spring rolls, and learning how to write their names in Thai. The event concluded with a school-wide celebration in the JJ Flynn auditorium with a surprise dragon dance performed by fourth and fifth graders.

As JJ Flynn Elementary school finished year-long renovations, the Asian Studies Outreach Program and various other community members came to share cultures from around the world during a two-day celebration. In addition to the Visiting Scholars, ASOP Curriculum Coordinator Gerry Gatz provided a Chinese dancing dragon workshop with 14 students. For the first part of the two hour dragon workshop, Gerry explained to the students how perceptions of the dragons vary from the East to the West, and explained the symbolism of the pearl that the dragon would be chasing as he danced. After being divided into two groups, students practiced with the green dragon or the red dragon, and provided feedback to each other as to how to make the dragon look more realistic.

At Saint Joe’s elementary school, Michiko Oishi worked with the Visiting Scholars to show the students how to make paper flowers and origami. These activities coincided with cooking activities that included making fresh spring rolls. Students loved creating the flowers, which students shared with their friends and other teachers as a sign of friendship.