Cultures in harmony

What do first- through sixth-graders at the Pacific Avenue Academy of Music and South Korean college students have in common?

Quite a bit, it turns out.

More than 30 Korean undergraduates spent an hour visiting nearly 70 Pacific Avenue elementary students last month, as part of a cultural outreach effort and foreign exchange program through UC Riverside.

"It was a wonderful experience," said Pacific Avenue Principal Maureen Dalimot.  "A beautiful blend of multiple cultures."

During the visit, the students compared two versions of Cinderella – American and Korean – played trivia and rolling-ball games, and discussed culture in their respective nations. 

"I think they did learn a lot about Korea," Ms. Dalimot said of her students.  "They were able to see the similarities between the two cultures through fairy tales, ball games, kids playing, and, to some extent, tastes in food."

The dialogue and common ground helped build cultural insight and mutual understanding, Ms. Dalimot said.  The visit spanned 30 minutes at the end of the school day and another 30 in the Think Together after-school program, which provides supplementary learning in such areas as arts, culture, STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) and physical education.

The meeting marked the second time Pacific Avenue has hosted Korean guests, Ms. Dalimot said, after a visit several years ago by teachers from South Korea.  This year's confab went so well that UCR and Pacific Avenue hope to build on their teamwork going forward. 

Next year, cross-cultural talks might explore common ground in music, along with games and fairy tales.  Jurupa Unified in 2016 made Pacific Avenue a music magnet school – integrating music with academics based on neuroscience that links music education with better brain development in young children.

Ms. Dalimot said she was pleased and even surprised by how much the Pacific Avenue students enjoyed hosting their international guests.  "They talked about it for a week afterward," she said.  "They made great memories."