By Shannon Mann
Jules Verne may have written about traveling the world in 80 days, but 6th graders at Neuse Charter School had him beat.
In roughly a three week period, 70 middle academy students brought the cultures of 21
different nations to the Smithfield school.
On April 13, 2018, the classes of Gloria Brindle, Jeff Matisoff and Marjorie Harris
descended on the middle/senior academy commons area with presentations, food and crafts from countries across the globe. The experience rivaled some of the best
international fairs in the area.
Six continents were represented as students eagerly shared facts, fun and food with each
other, and a number of lower and senior academy students and teachers.
Lamya Pettiway, a 9th grader in Chase Crocker’s Health/PE class, had the pleasure of
attending the event that started at 8am. “I learned a little about each country, and a lot about the food.”
Food presentations were a mixture of savory and sweet, tangy and bland depending on the
nation. From chocolate pastries, sweet breads, fruit-filled delights and yummy puddings to
sausage balls, sweet and sour chicken, and cabbage rolls the students and visitors did not leave hungry.
This was the first year the 6th grade team attempted a multi-cultural event of this scope.
“We want to fulfill the school’s vision of creating an environment that allows students to be
respectful, responsible citizens of a global community,” said Marjorie Harris, 6th grade science and social studies teacher. “In order to be respectful of other cultures, we must teach our students to appreciate the aspects of each culture that make it unique and exceptional.”
While many countries such as Canada, Ireland and Mexico were familiar names to the
students, other countries such as Armenia, Montserrat, Norway and Poland were a bit unknown. Leland Guy, Banks Gaskins and Kyra Mitchell chose Poland because Guy and Gaskins had ancestors from the country and wanted to know more about their heritage.
“I learned that Burek is the most popular name in Poland,” said Gaskins.
While food was a main focus, the 6th graders also embraced a mentor mentality by hosting the kindergarten class and leading them through specific crafts that represented each nation.
In Australia kids could make rain sticks; in China they learned how to make an orgami dog;
in France they made drawings of the Eiffel Tour and in England they made Buckingham Palace guards.
Kindergarteners were thrilled to be working with the older students as it was their
international day as well.
Harris said she’s heard her students speak in 14 different languages over the past few weeks, and watched proudly as they created art performances through songs, skits and poetry. “I hope that each student gains a better understanding of the world that we live in,” said Harris, “and the incredible people and cultures that make it up.”