Transcripts

Embassy Adoptees

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:10:16
In the form of field trips, D.C. public schools and the Washington Performing Arts Society are pairing 5th and 6th graders from across the district with embassies.

MR. ROB SACHS

13:10:25
And as WAMU education reporter, Kavitha Cardoza, tells us, each year thousands of students visit the embassies to attend film screenings, try out international cuisines and meet ambassadors and dignitaries.

MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA

13:10:38
In a classroom at Eaton Elementary School in Northeast D.C., the embassy of Saudi Arabia is hosting a fashion show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1

13:10:47
At the bottom, you see stripes and these stripes tell you what tribe she's from.

CARDOZA

13:10:50
Staffer Khalid al-Ghanami is explaining the different types of robes and head scarves as the students model.

MR. KHALID AL-GHANAMI

13:10:57
They put patterns on them, anything that they see in the desert, colors and flowers.

CARDOZA

13:11:03
The walls of the classroom are lined with posters that list English words and their Arabic equivalents, such as book and kitab, house of prayers and masjid. This 5th grade classroom is part of the Embassy Adoption Program and students will learn all about Saudi culture for a year. As they munch on sweet dates, they quiz al-Ghanami.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2

13:11:23
Who was the first Muslim?

AL-GHANAMI

13:11:25
That would be the prophet Mohammed.

2

13:11:26
Oh, thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 1

13:11:28
How did…

CARDOZA

13:11:28
The questions continue. Is the gold on the clothes real? Yes. What do newborns in Saudi wear? Baby Gap. Al-Ghanami says he wants students to know about the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which he says is not just about oil.

AL-GHANAMI

13:11:42
We have the cultural ties, the educational ties, the health care ties, the social ties, all that and I haven't touched on all the political alliances between our two countries.

CARDOZA

13:11:53
Kevin McNamee coordinates the Embassy Adoption Program for D.C. public schools. Forty-five embassies participate. McNamee says the interaction might include children learning to make French food or Mexican piñatas, but they might also learn about exchange rates using Canadian currency in math or discuss how climate change is affecting Finland in science.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 2

13:12:14
It's not just another add-on and another thing to take away from the school day. It actually becomes a creative dynamic way in which the teachers can deliver that curriculum.

CARDOZA

13:12:25
All kinds of relationships develop from the program. Njambi Wynn, with the Washington Performing Arts Society, helps coordinate and raise money for the program. She says students from one D.C. class will video-conference with students in Luxemburg. Students from another will soon learn judo after the Japanese embassy donated uniforms and mats. And some students may get to travel abroad, like one class that had the red carpet rolled out for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 3

13:12:50
They were movie stars on television, in the newspapers. So this is something that changed their lives. They will never forget Poland.

CARDOZA

13:13:00
Maribel Jimeno, a teacher from Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Northwest D.C., teaches a class that paired with Mexico this year. She says the program re-enforces the bilingual aspect of the school, but also shows students it's about more than just language.

MS. MARIBEL JIMENO

13:13:15
Bilingual is not just learning to speak the language. It's understanding the culture and understanding traditions and understanding the way these people think.

CARDOZA

13:13:23
These interactions sometimes gloss over serious differences, such as disputed political boundaries or women's rights in other countries. McNamee says D.C. PS is working on a revised curriculum with state department officials so children will also learn about the U.S. government's relationship with each country. And Wynn says even when children learn about differences, they also learn they have to be respectful towards different cultures, for example, with food.

MS. NJAMBI WYNN

13:13:52
We always say you just take a little bit. You don't go, oh, I don't like that. You try it. You say thank you very much and you're appreciative of what anyone does for you.

CARDOZA

13:14:00
Even as these children learn about differences, they also learn about what connects us all. Ten-year-olds at Eaton Elementary School in Northwest D.C. who are studying about South Africa listen to a first-hand account of life there from Ambassador Abraham Rasul. He describes his experiences organizing marches, going to jail and working with former South African President Nelson Mandela. It is history come alive.

UNIDENFIED MALE 3

13:14:27
How did it feel during apartheid?

AMBASSADOR ABRAHAM RASUL

13:14:28
I remember when I went to high school. Within the first three months, I was involved in my first march against apartheid because the school was so bad. It was raining outside. It was cold outside, but we had no shelter, no heating. Every five children shared one textbook.

CARDOZA

13:14:45
At the end of the year, children present what they've learned at their adopted country's embassy. Wynn says once some students rapped about King Henry and his wives at the British embassy, much to the amusement of the ambassador. Another class performed a traditional Indonesian dance, while another began by singing the national anthem of Cyprus.

WYNN

13:15:04
And they did it in Greek. The ambassador, his wife, his staff, all had tears in their eyes. They were so pleased. This year, they had to (word?) . The teacher said, oh, we'll do it in Japanese as well.

CARDOZA

13:15:17
For these children in local schools, it's an opportunity for global experiences early on. I'm Kavitha Cardoza.
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