Provided by Rick Peterson, Manager of News Services
A nearly four-month-long Community Engaged Learning project by students from Lawrence and Appleton’s Foster Elementary School culminated Fri., April 20 with residents of Pioneer Village in a celebration of intergenerational relationships and diversity awareness. The program is part of National & Global Youth Service Day, the largest service event in the world. The initiative mobilizes the nation’s young people to identify and address the needs of their communities through service-learning and community service. Since January, Lawrence International and study abroad student volunteers have led 15 third- through sixth-grade students from Foster in an after-school “Culture Club.” The Culture Club activities have focused on learning various arts-related traditions and customs from countries around the world, including Brazil, China, Japan, Peru, Bolivia, the Netherlands, Russia and Vietnam. With the help of Lawrence Postdoctoral Fellow in Art Valerie Zimany, students from the Wriston Arts Collective made ceramic plates, which were then decorated by the Foster students. They painted the plates with scenes of diversity and multiculturalism based on what they learned in the Culture Club. The Foster Elementary students showcased what they’ve been learning in a presentation Fri., April 20 at Pioneer Village, an Appleton assisted living facility. The students performed an Afro-Peruvian dance and a Japanese song for the residents at the event. They also each gave residents the painted ceramic plates as a keepsake of the event. High school students from Appleton East, North and West who have been working with the Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin’s Youth Volunteer Program to lead arts and crafts activities for both residents and Foster Elementary students. The high school students also performed an Irish flute piece and an Australian dreamtime story at the event. This Community Engaged Learning project was made possible by a $1,000 grant awarded in January by the State Farm Companies Foundation. It was one of 100 State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning awards nationally chosen by Youth Service America. “This project is a fantastic opportunity for people of various cultures, generations and economic backgrounds to come together and celebrate diversity,” said Mica Tucci, a 2005 Lawrence graduate and AmeriCorps Vista representative who coordinated the project. “It’s been wonderful seeing students of all ages learning from each other these past several months,” she added. “It [was] even more exciting to watch them share their newfound knowledge and talents with the residents of Pioneer Village on National & Global Youth Service Day.” Steven Culbertson, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Youth Service America, said the State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning grants “open the door to our young people to become fully engaged participants and leaders.” “These grants support young people as they step into meaningful decision-making roles and make important contributions to their schools, organizations, and communities,” Culbertson added.