GALLERY: AES third-grade students participate in ‘Feast Around the World’ program

Published 9:15 am Thursday, May 25, 2023

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Andalusia Elementary School hosted its annual Feast Around the World as six third-grade classes learned about the world’s cultures and enjoyed food from six different countries Friday, May 19.

The program, which is made possible through a grant, started in 1996 at East Three Notch Elementary School.

“We saw a need for embracing other cultures and races. We realized that exposing our students to traditions and cultures that were different from their own at this early age would develop the understanding of diversity. Children live what they learn. The tradition has continued for almost 30 years,” AES Third Grade Teacher Beth Weed said.

This year’s booths represented food from Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and Ukraine. Students enjoyed roo burgers and chips in Australia, fruit, cheese, and French toast in France, tiramisu and pizza rolls in Italy, fried rice, egg rolls, pineapple, and Japanese candy in Japan, taquitos and Mexican popsicles in Mexico, and blueberries, Crazy Bee jelly candy, vareniki, and homemade kolach in Ukraine.

The event is incorporated into the third-grade curriculum throughout the school year.

“We enjoy inviting community members, businesses, and parents to help us. We teach about each country throughout the year, and the culminating event is something our students look forward to all year long. They plan their own costume, and that excitement is amazing to see.”

Weed added that the six third-grade classes learn about many countries.

“Each class decorates and provides food for their own booth. We sometimes change these countries due to current events or students in our classrooms. It is wonderful to have a student share his or her own culture with their classmates. So many times, we use our students as resources to get first-hand knowledge. That happened this year with Emi Bzhezinska. She is our community after leaving Ukraine due to war. Her stories are amazing. She and her mom Ivanka taught us so much about Ukraine and the war happening there.”

Students are able to learn several topics as a result of their participation in the program.

“Christmas around the world is something we implement at Christmas. During math, we incorporate populations, distance, and charts. We’ve also learned about all sorts of famous artists and exhibitions in art and even created our own African masks, Monet’s Impressionistic watercolors, Italian mosaics, and Asian origami. We’ve taken virtual tours of the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the London Eye all while developing map skills in social studies,” she said.

Weed stated that support from the community and her fellow teachers means everything to her.

“I could not do my job without the support of my Andalusia community, my parents, and my colleagues. Mary Ashley Wise makes our picture passports every single year and also provides the stamps to stamp the passports. The grant we receive is funded through the Andalusia City School’s Foundation. It truly takes a village,” she said.

Ashley Richburg’s class represented Australia. Stephanie Pierce’s class represented France. Dianne Chavers’ class represented Italy. Amber Campbell’s class represented Japan. Ann Pugh’s class represented Mexico. Beth Weed’s class represented Ukraine.

Notes are sent home to parents asking for volunteers to assist with cooking, setting up booths, and working in the booth on the day of the culminating feast.

“It is so important to encourage acceptance and understanding of cultural and racial differences. Learning about other cultures promotes tolerance. We want children and adults to be empathetic and open-minded about cultures that are different from their own. Understanding different cultures allows students to be more open, accepting, and tolerant of people who are different from them,” Weed said.

For more information about Andalusia Elementary School’s Feast Around the World program, call 334-222-1224.