Students and staff at Fred Douglass Early Childhood Center in Sherman spent their Thursday afternoon celebrating the many different countries and cultures of the world with an international parade.
Deemed “We All Smile in the Same Language,” the event highlighted nearly two dozen nations, including the U.S., Kenya, Italy, Myanmar and Peru. Students and teachers donned traditional clothing unique to their chosen countries, waved flags and even played exotic musical instruments as parents and family members cheered them on and snapped photos.
“This is our first time to do this,” Principal Deloris Dowell said. “We have children from a variety of nations here and so that’s why we wanted to do the international parade. We want to celebrate everyone’s culture and not just a specific one.”
With hundreds of students enrolled at Fred Douglass, Dowell explained that the school itself is a microcosm of culture and especially languages. In addition to the standard English and Spanish, students of the school also speak in Arabic, Bengali, Navajo, Nepali, Burmese and through American Sign Language.
Preschool teacher Alyssa Woody organized the parade of nations after she was awarded a $400 grant for her efforts to educate students about the cultures of the world. Woody said although the children may still be too young, at the age of 3 or 4, to fully understand the uniqueness of each culture they celebrated, their first years of school are a formative period in which they learn about getting along with others and accepting differences.
“Right now is when they’re really starting to learn about how they can be good friends,” Woody said. “So this is the perfect time to introduce them to cultures they might not be familiar with or have never heard of.”
And on the matter of what makes a good friend, Woody said it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, but what’s on the inside.
“It’s what is in your hear that makes you a good friend,” Woody said. “It has nothing to do with what you look like, the color of your skin, the language you speak, the clothes you wear or the food you eat.”
But when it came to the clothes 5-year-old Jude Chirstman wore for the parade, he couldn’t help but be a little enamored. Christman said the “lai thil” he wore — the traditional clothing of Myanmar’s Chin State — was fun as it was a departure from the jeans and T-shirts hanging in his closet at home.
“I wore a vest that had all different colors on it,” Christman said. “It’s something special because I don’t really have clothes like that.”