Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Becoming International - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

A couple of months ago, a flyer was sent home from my son’s school notifying us that International Week would be taking place this past week. I always love to volunteer at my son’s school. Firstly because he is so proud to see me there. Secondly, I like to be a presence in the school and give a little of my time.

For International Week, I chose to volunteer for three days. I was supposed to volunteer at the school’s Book Fair back in November, but I was plagued with pneumonia, so I felt a certain “obligation” to put in more time for this event.

Since we have a very diverse community, families are asked to let the school borrow and display items from their heritage. There were beautiful things from India, Korea, Argentina, England, Japan, China, Israel, Russia, and others. My son also wanted to contribute artifacts for International Week. However he didn’t want to donate anything from our family’s heritage. He wanted to bring in items from Canada.

My husband goes on a yearly trip to Canada and always brings my son a gift, such as a Husky stuffed animal, a hat, miscellaneous Canadian coins, etc. Because my son was so excited to be contributing, he not only wanted to donate items, he wanted to research facts about Canada and have the two of us present them to the class! I totally immersed myself into finding out more about Canada, my son by my side. I was going to make this an educational experience for him and bolster his self-esteem at the same time!

We spent a good part of the weekend researching facts about Canada by goggling “Canada” and “Kids.” A multitude of sites came up. We printed out the old and the new Canadian flags. We found a children’s word search puzzle about Canada that I made multiple copies of for my son’s class. We wrote up a simple list of facts about Canada that would hopefully interest his class for roughly 10 minutes. My son was elated!

Next, I had to get permission from my son’s teacher to do a mini presentation for the class. She responded that she would be delighted!

On Monday, my son carried his entire Husky dog collection, hats, and coins into school. He wanted to bring it directly to the area where items would be put on display, completely by himself.

I began my volunteering on Tuesday. I stationed myself right in front of the Canadian display. I was quite intrigued that the boys came over to admire the Husky dogs more than the girls! And they had many questions about Canada! Thankfully, because of the research I did with my son, I was able to answer most of them, as well as give them additional facts!

The next day, my son’s class was going to visit the International “Museum.” My son was beaming when he saw me! I took some pictures of him to remember his excitement of this day! Again, many boys came over to examine the Huskys. One little boy offered to buy one!

Once the morning classes left, I was allowed to go to my son’s classroom to give our presentation. I had the word search puzzles, the flags, and fact sheets for my son to read to the class and one for me to read as well. 

My son is a born presenter. There was not one flinch of apprehension; not one quiver of fear; not one moment of hesitation in this boy as he presented to his class! I was beyond proud! At seven years old, I remember sitting in the back of the classroom, hoping not to be noticed. If I had to come to the front of the class, I would have been shaking so much, I would have practically fainted. And here was my son, presenting facts and fielding questions from his classmates as if he were a politician!  I couldn’t have been more proud of my son!  I was proud that he took the initiative to take on this multifaceted project. I was proud that he was excited about presenting his finds. I was so proud that he could speak in front of an audience without an inkling of uneasiness! My son may have learning issues, but this kid is going to blow right past these issues and do whatever he wants to do in this world!

My next volunteer project is the school store. I’m curious see how he does as a salesman!

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