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Latin America in 4-H Global Cloverbud Day

Posted: September 11, 2017

4-H kids in Tioga County with (left to right) Ilse (Mexico), Laura (Puerto Rico) and Mara (Peru) holding our flags

4-H kids in Tioga County with (left to right) Ilse (Mexico), Laura (Puerto Rico) and Mara (Peru) holding our flags

Global Cloverbud Day is a one-day event in July dedicated to engage 5-8-year-old kids in learning about other parts of the world, but is also an opportunity for graduate students to involve with the community. Sasha Diedrich, 4-H Extension Educator in Tioga County, has coordinated it for the second consecutive year. The idea came to her after she had the opportunity to travel to Belize with support from the International Office in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Sasha wanted kids in Tioga County, an area with low international diversity, to “think outside the box and make connections with cultures from around the world”.  The main goal of this now annual event, is that kids “become better global citizens”.

Due to Penn State’s large international community, Sasha contacted Dr. Melanie Miller-Foster to reach a student that would like to present at the 2017 Global Cloverbud Day. Dr. Miller-Foster contacted me (Ilse), and I happily accepted to coordinate an international experience activity for the 4-H kids. Sharing my Mexican culture is something that I really enjoy to do. However, I wanted to enrich the experience for the kids, so I thought of talking about Latin American in general and then deepen into at least three countries. Fortunately, my friends Maria Fernanda Vivanco (Mara), Rural Sociology Ph.D., from Perú, and Laura Ramos Sepúlveda, alumni and postdoc in Plant Pathology from Puerto Rico, agreed to join me in organizing the learning activity.

Together, we coordinated an hour-and-a-half event with fun activities for approximately 25 kids. Our objective was to talk about different features of Latin America but also share the idea that “America” represents a continent with 35 countries and different groups of people.

First, we had an interactive presentation about the American continent, raising questions related to its diversity in geography, languages, food and traditions. We emphasized about all the places in which they could communicate in Spanish. Mara, Laura and I continued by saying a phrase in Spanish so that kids could hear our different accents, and we let them be the judges of who “sounded better” (I know you are curious…so let’s just say México got this one!). Then, Mara proposed the activity “adopt a Hispanic name for the day”, which resulted in curious children carrying names like Illary (“Bright dawn” in Quechua) or Xóchitl (“Flower” in Nahuatl), who also learned how to pronounce it.

After the presentation, we arranged stations where each of us hosted hands-on learning activities about our own country. The kids visited the stations in groups and received a sticker of the country’s flag, designed by Laura, to put in their passports at the completion of each table. We showcased images of food, emblematic places and people from our country. Coloring sheets with distinctive images (flags, animals, plants, food, etc.) were given to the kids to paint. In the Mexican booth, we played a game called “loteria”, kids made “papel picado” (typical for decoration in the day of the death holiday), and dressed with traditional Mexican clothes. Mara displayed pictures and videos of the Incan citadel of Machu Pichu, guinea pig costume festivals, and typical dances. Laura showed images and videos of endemic insects and birds from Puerto Rico, and asked the kids to imitate their sounds.  

To conclude the activity, Laura taught them a game called “1, 2, 3 pescáo”. Kids ran, pretended to freeze to avoid be caught, and laugh!! At the end, everyone got Latin American snacks as a prize. We also received nice t-shirts from the 4-H program in Tioga, as appreciation. We enjoyed this experience as much as the kids! Many of which expressed their interest to visit our countries one day.

We want to encourage other international students and students that have traveled abroad, to participate in future Global Cloverbud Days. It is a unique experience of cultural exchange and genuine sharing moments. GRACIAS!

By Ilse A. Huerta Arredondo and Maria Fernanda Vivanco Salazar