About 150 high school students from the surrounding area gathered at Barton Community College last Monday for the first Culture Day, an event for attending high school students to learn about the cultures from their foreign language courses. Students participated in workshops ranging from soccer and dance to learning about Spanish art and the impact of geography on the culture in Central and South America.
“Part of the curriculum for a high school Spanish class includes a cultural experience,” Barton’s Dean of Academics Brian Howe said. “This is an effort to combine and provide that opportunity for high school students and teachers.”
Laia Tena-Girones Dietz, one of Barton’s Spanish instructors, presented the idea for Culture Day to Howe who said, “let’s do it.” In addition to teaching at Barton, Dietz also teaches in Lindsborg at Smokey Valley High School. With her connections to high school Spanish instructors, her role was vital in not only coming up with the idea for the event but making the first Culture Day well-attended.
“It is like a dream come true,” Dietz said. “Having teachers and students reporting to me they are having such an amazing time makes me the happiest person here. Students are so appreciative of what they are learning here today, and it would not have been possible without everyone’s collaboration at Barton and the community of teachers who put a lot of effort in making this fun for students.”
High school teachers, Barton instructors and staff along with Barton students led the numerous workshops during Culture Day.
Freshman Carlos Castrejon was one of the many Barton Soccer players who helped lead the soccer workshop. He said as someone who is proud of his Hispanic culture, he thinks the event is important.
“The culture Hispanics have is one that should be embraced,” he said. “I think it is cool that all of these different cultures are learning about our culture.”
Two other Barton soccer players, Alejandro Sequeira of Costa Rica and Gerardo Molina of El Salvador, led attendees in a Latin dance workshop.
“These dances are common in our culture, and for us, it is fun. I hope they can learn the basics of each dance and have fun too,” Molina said. “When we came here, we didn’t know anything about English, but soccer is language and dance is a language.”
For Sequeira, remembering his first experience with American culture at Barton and using soccer as a language to bond with his new teammates made this moment in teaching dance special.
“We try to show a little bit of Hispanic culture so if they want to go [to a Hispanic country] they can feel more comfortable.”
This year, the Culture Day focused on the Hispanic culture, but Howe said they plan to grow this event next year to cover more languages and include more schools from the western side of the state.