The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 29, 2013

Good Shepherd Lutheran School celebrates diversity

NORTH MANKATO — Nyewal Dojiok had a few things to add when Alice Brase and her students reached the Sudan display on a tour of countries at Good Shepherd Lutheran School Monday morning.

Dojiok’s mom had lent a few Sudanese items for the display, including some colorful beadwork. When Brase asked if Nyewal remembered where she had lived in the Sudan, Nyewal said she had lived in a home made of grass and wood, lending some personal insight to her classmates.

“We have, for such a small school, such a variety (of cultures), and we thought it was neat to celebrate it,” said mom and volunteer Libby Englehorn, who helped coordinate Diversity Day.

Like other Catholic and Lutheran schools in the area celebrating national Catholic Schools and Lutheran Schools Week, Good Shepherd wanted to host special activities for the kids. The school has about 30 students from grades pre-school to 7.

On Monday, parents combined efforts to set up displays that represented the country of origin of every student. Displays included Sudan, Ukraine, Guatemala, Colombia, Cambodia and North America. And beside each were authentic items such as books, clothing, toys and dolls, flags, maps and currency.

Brase was one of the teachers taking four kindergarten and first-graders through each display and pointing out all the unique items, including a pysankia.

“See, these are called Ukrainian eggs,” Brase said, picking up the intricately painted Easter egg. “Isn’t that pretty how they’ve done that?”

Children also sampled foods from the various countries, including papaya.

Parent volunteer Noami Langsjoen said diversity events are important for the kids.

“I grew up in a family that was warm and accepting of all different cultures, and I think it’s important to start at an early age,” she said.

Langsjoen said she also hopes the event will help bolster interest in Good Shepherd. An open house will be held 6-8 p.m. Feb. 28.

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