Thu, Jan 04, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Tamsui school wins competition with multicultural course

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eating Vietnamese fertilized duck eggs might be less than appealing to many in Taiwan, but hearing a few details about Taiwan's own beloved preserved eggs might be enough to convince them the latter are no less scary.

In a bid to enhance schoolchildren's multicultural awareness as more and more children have parents from abroad -- particularly from Vietnam and other neighboring southeastern countries -- the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan invited teachers to participate in a multicultural course-designing contest.

PREJUDICE IN SCHOOLS

The goal was to encourage schoolteachers to come up with multicultural teaching projects that would help students learn about foreign cultures and fight xenophobia in schools.

The teaching team from Tian Sheng Elementary School in Tamsui (淡水), Taipei County, won first prize in the contest and was handed their award yesterday.

The course they designed taught about Vietnamese cuisine, teaching children that people who eat fertilized eggs are not "monsters."

"A Vietnamese mother told me that her son saw she was eating fertilized eggs and called her `a monster,' which broke her heart," one teacher from the Tian Sheng Elementary said.

"But the mother also told me that she thinks [Taiwanese] preserved eggs are much worse" than the Vietnamese eggs she said. "Therefore, we decided to design a course teaching our kids that different cultures have their own features and we should all respect that," she added.

RAISING INTERESTS

After this class, many schoolchildren said they had a better understanding of foreign cultures and were more interested in learning about the foreign backgrounds of classmates, the teacher said.

Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億) stressed the importance of educating children about respecting other kids brought up in hybrid families at the event yesterday,

"Although Taiwan has trans-formed into a modern society that claims to contain diverse peoples and cultures, we often find the truth is not like what we think," Lin said.

"Many Taiwanese reveal their self-centered superiority when they face people from Vietnam or other southeast Asian countries," he said.

RESPONSIBILITY

Adults have a responsibility to work against children's stereotypes of foreigners and combat prejudice in society, and he believed that education was a key to this struggle, he said.

"The courses of elementary and junior high schools are the very first step for our children to be socialized," Lin said.

"Through well-organized teaching methods, we could effectively pass on the value of diverse cultures and promote the mutual understanding between different ethnic groups," he added.

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