September 23, 2018
School & Youth
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  • (Left to right) Erin Schlesinger, Melissa Kibler and Katie Kibler represented Germany at Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    (Left to right) Erin Schlesinger, Melissa Kibler and Katie Kibler represented Germany at Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World.
  • Jennie Snider represented South Africa during Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World. Snider moved from South Africa to Minnesota in 2003 for a job, and then later to Severna Park.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Jennie Snider represented South Africa during Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World. Snider moved from South Africa to Minnesota in 2003 for a job, and then later to Severna Park.
  • Mike Viscardi and his son Henry are traveling to Italy for the first time this summer. Viscardi quizzed Henry’s classmates on the different landmarks in Italy during Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Mike Viscardi and his son Henry are traveling to Italy for the first time this summer. Viscardi quizzed Henry’s classmates on the different landmarks in Italy during Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World.
  • Linda Funderburk brought a variety of items to portray France during Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World. Funderburk’s mother was born in Paris, where she lived during World War II.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Linda Funderburk brought a variety of items to portray France during Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World. Funderburk’s mother was born in Paris, where she lived during World War II.
  • Shingie Chiweshe represented her native country of Zimbabwe during Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World. Chiweshe moved to the United States in 2000 when she earned a scholarship to the University of Maryland.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Shingie Chiweshe represented her native country of Zimbabwe during Severn River Middle School’s Trip Around the World. Chiweshe moved to the United States in 2000 when she earned a scholarship to the University of Maryland.

Severn River Middle School Celebrates Diverse Cultures

Maya Pottiger
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April 3, 2018

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your boarding call. You need to pack up your bags and depart for your next country.”

Jennifer Kubista announced the message in the media center at Severn River Middle School on March 23, and her sixth-grade Passports to the World class began the rotation.

Part of the Passports to the World curriculum is Trip Around the World, an event Kubista started five years ago. Instead of focusing solely on the six county-required cultures, Kubista invites parents of diverse backgrounds to come in for a day and teach her students about their cultures.

“I tap the great resources here at school, and the parents are amazing. They do such a great job,” Kubista said. “I’ve been doing it for a while, and it’s one of my very favorite days of the whole school year.”

This year, 12 countries were represented during Trip Around the World: South Africa, Italy, Jamaica, Thailand, France, Qataristan, Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Germany, England, Ukraine and Greece.

Melissa Kibler has a daughter in eighth grade at Severn River. She was there representing Germany, where she lived for two and a half years while in the military. Kibler brought a variety of German food that is common in American grocery stores — including pretzels, Haribo gummy bears, German chocolate and schnitzel — to share with students.

Kibler said she wanted to participate because it’s important for people to learn about other cultures.

“I think it’s really important that [the students] know about other cultures, especially when they go outside the country for the first time,” Kibler said.

Linda Funderburk represented France during Trip Around the World because her mother was born and raised in Paris. To depict France, Funderburk brought French cookies, a trifold with maps and pictures, and some family photographs.

Funderburk agreed that students need to be educated about cultures different from theirs.

“I think so often [the students] think this is what it’s like all around the world, and it’s not,” Funderburk said. “My goal is just to teach them a little bit about another culture.”

Two African countries were represented. Jennie Snider is from South Africa and Shingie Chiweshe is from Zimbabwe. Snider said she hoped to help the students understand that Africa is a continent with many different countries.

“[South Africa] is a very diverse country, and it’s a very beautiful country, and yes, it’s gone through many, many changes,” Snider said.

Chiweshe also hoped to highlight the realities of her country, as people have asked her about living in trees.

“Don’t believe what you hear in the news,” Chiweshe said. “You have to visit.”

However, Chiweshe said she was excited to show the students Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls because it was recently featured in the movie “Black Panther.”

Mike Viscardi brought homemade meatballs and sauce to teach students about Italy. In addition, he made a quiz to test the students’ knowledge of popular Italian landmarks. Some of the landmarks were where pizza was created in Naples, the gladiators in Rome and art history.

These landmarks are all on the Viscardi family’s itinerary when they visit Italy for the first time this summer.

“We’ve always really enjoyed travel, and my son has very much enjoyed this class,” Viscardi said. “I hope students appreciate that the world is within reach, and there’s a lot of great aspects to all the different cultures.”

Kubista said that it’s really important right now to build connections between people.

“We’re more alike than we are different, and we really need to become more cohesive and realize some of that,” Kubista said. “We celebrate what we have in common, and we learn about each other and celebrate what makes us different.”


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