The Association of International Students is bringing several student multicultural groups together to share crafts, food and games with kids at Kendall-Whittier Elementary.
AIS Philanthropy Chair Sophie Htet Htet Aye said that AIS plans to send a group to Kendall-Whittier every other Friday, possibly every Friday, if enough student groups want to participate.
They plan to work with kids from first to fifth grade, bringing different activities like coloring books, crafts, quizzes and giveaways.
“Right now we’re also planning to do like a passport-style book that we can hand out to the kids, so if we go, they can … color and we can give them stickers and stamps so that they will love it. That’s the kind of thing that we’re planning,” Aye explained.
“The organizations … have to plan their own games and own activities. So that actually depends on them,” she said.
As of right now, she says that Malaysian Student Association, Latin American Student Association, Angolan Student Association, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Indonesian Student Association are planning to participate. Indian Student Association and Chinese Student Association are also considering getting involved.
Aye and a few other members of AIS came up with the idea for the Cultural Exchange program while brainstorming options for community service outreach.
“One of my friends and I were talking about it, and we thought of teaching something to kids. My friend was like ‘oh, maybe we can do … some cultural thing,’ because we’re AIS so it’s very international. We all came up with this idea and came to the agreement that we were going to start this project,” she said.
AIS wanted to get the program up and running as quickly as possible, an effort which Aye directed as the newly appointed Philanthropy Chair. “It was … really urgent, and Mr. David Kobel was really up to it, and we tried to connect it with True Blue Neighbors and they were really excited about it,” she said.
She said it was fairly easy to get in touch with Kendall-Whittier and set up the program. “We went there to see what the classrooms looked like and how the kids are,” she said. “The kids are really excited about it too. They’re so cute.”
For Aye, the program holds a personal significance. “Back home…I really liked kids and liked teaching them. So when they first told us that idea I was like, ‘yeah! Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s get into it,’” she smiled.
She believes that the program will make a significant difference in teaching the kids at Kendall-Whittier about cultures and places outside of their own homes.
“It’s really hard for another person to understand where we come from and everything that’s going on,” Aye explained. “People should know more about where we come from. We might be eating together and hanging out every day, but like sometimes … we forget that we’re kind of different but similar at the same time.”
“We want to showcase our background and our culture behind it. And especially for these kids, they may not … some of them, they might not even have been to, like, other places outside of Tulsa. So we really want to introduce that part to them,” she concluded.
The program kicks off next Friday. Indonesian Student Association will be the first to send a group to Kendall-Whittier.
Student organizations interested in participating are encouraged to contact Sophie Htet Htet Aye at firstname.lastname@example.org.