The new trend of foreign language education is closely tied to culture. Culture-specific programs in general contribute to the enrichment of students, schools, and communities. They provide rich learning experiences that supplement and enhance both classroom activities and what is taught in the home. Many federal agencies and state education departments are implementing strategies not only for purposes of increased cultural awareness, but also to support proficiency in a second or third language prior to post-secondary studies and entrance into the workforce. The Florida DOE, for example, included in its 2017 statutes the awarding of certificates to students who demonstrate Silver or Gold level competencies for the Florida Seal of Biliteracy Program.
This week, with the help of the New York Hanfu Association, Obridge Academy’s Mandarin teacher, Harry Yang, visited PS219 in Queens, New York to give a Hanfu demonstration. Hanfu clothing is the traditional clothing of the Han Chinese, the predominant ethic group of China. It is a significant symbol of Chinese civilization, and it has had a long history since the time of the Yellow Emperor, who is considered to be the founder of the Huaxia (the ancient name of China) Tribe.
Students at PS219 also experienced demonstrations in Chinese bow and archery and calligraphy, which are two primary skills from the Six Classic Chinese Skills. Students were given a chance to try on the Hanfu clothing. One of the students, who is Asian-American, expressed the fact that she never knew where her parents were originally from, but that she had a feeling she “just tried on what her ancestors wore.”
As we move toward stronger educational initiatives that embrace the ideas of cross-cultural awareness, biliteracy, and global citizenship, programs such as these might just become curricular staples, and we sure hope they do!