• Dec. 20, 2018

    Fort Couch celebrates International Education Week

    Djembes Fort Couch Middle School recently celebrated International Education Week with speakers and events that celebrated more than a dozen countries, languages and/or cultures. The week-long event was organized by world language teachers Erin Lemon, French; Maria Marchionna, Spanish; and Kristin Weaver, German.

    The teachers believe events like International Education Week help to broaden the perspectives of their middle school students.

    “Some students often only experience life here in Upper St. Clair with limited travel, while others have lived elsewhere and/or travel extensively,” Ms. Weaver said. “Events like International Education Week provide an opportunity for students to experience and celebrate other cultures, which aligns heavily with the district’s mission of ‘developing lifelong learners and responsible citizens for a global society.’”

    As the region becomes more diverse, Fort Couch teachers hope that students will be inspired to pursue additional language skills.

    “We want students to recognize the importance of a second language, especially when it comes to future career opportunities,” Ms. Weaver said. “We hope students will appreciate the diversity within our own community and recognize that there are many students/people living in this township who have experiences outside of the United States.”

    International Education Week activities included the following: 

    • Zach Rehrig spoke with the students about the benefits of learning a second language, the benefits of travel and study abroad, and some information about the history and culture of Peru.
    • Diana Osma spoke with the students about the culture of Colombia, the benefits of taking a risk and moving to a new country, and how to improve skills in a second language.
    • Emmanuel Wanjala spoke about the benefits of learning a second language and understanding other cultures. He also taught the students a song and some words in Swahili.
    • Jacqueline Saslawski spoke about her life in Germany and how knowing a second language is helpful in life and career.
    • Miriam Mayr spoke about her experience of growing up in Upper St. Clair in a home that celebrated Austrian culture, as well as her experience traveling to Vienna to do theater for a number of years and how knowing German helped her tremendously.
    • Chie Ramsey, Upper St. Clair High School Japanese teacher, taught students basic Japanese commands and a song.
    • Lixia Kang, Upper St. Clair High School Chinese teacher, taught the students some simple Chinese greetings with a song.
    • Nick and Natalie Jovonovich spoke about the history and culture of Serbia, taught two dances to students, and showed some of the ways that Serbian culture is present in Pittsburgh.
    • Koku Kuwonu spoke about his life in Lome, Togo, played djembe drums, and gave students the opportunity to play the djembe.
    • Dmitry Demidov spoke briefly about Russian culture and taught the students two Russian folk dances.
    • Matoula Rice, a retired Fort Couch Middle School secretary, spoke about growing up in Greece, the transition to living in the United States and working in Upper St. Clair and taught the students two Greek dances.
    • Connie Durning taught the students Merengue and Bachata dances.
    • Eunjoo Oh spoke with students about South Korean culture and the similarities and differences between middle school in the United States and South Korea.

    International Education Week, held this year from Nov. 12-16, is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education and is intended to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences. Visit iew.state.gov to learn more about International Education Week.