Noteworthy News

WCU class sponsors international festival at Smoky Mountain High

Students enrolled in an “Intercultural Communications” class taught by James Manning, WCU associate professor of human communication, collaborated with “cultural hosts” to sponsor an international festival for the students at Smoky Mountain High School late in the fall semester.

Smoky Mountain High teacher Suzanne Tompkins (left) speaks with Costa Rica native Katya Jimenez Meza-Higdon, one of the “cultural hosts” for the international festival at the Sylva high school. Meza-Higdon, the mother of a WCU student, is a language teacher at Andrews High School.

Smoky Mountain High teacher Suzanne Tompkins (left) speaks with Costa Rica native Katya Jimenez Meza-Higdon, one of the “cultural hosts” for the international festival at the Sylva high school. Meza-Higdon, the mother of a WCU student, is a language teacher at Andrews High School.

Manning’s students worked through the semester to research and prepare poster boards about various countries to present at the festival. The cultural hosts, hailing from China, Costa Rica, Japan, South Korea, Poland and Saudi Arabia, attended to provide insights into their home cultures.

“I was able to share who I am and where I come from, and that couldn’t make me more proud,” said WCU international student Hanbi Jeong, one of the cultural hosts. She demonstrated Korean calligraphy at the event as she wrote down the high school students’ names. Christine Massingale, a Smoky Mountain High student, said the international festival was of great interest for her and her fellow SMHS students. “As high school students, not many doors are opened to view the outside world,” she said. “These students and their hosts showed us what we don’t always learn about.”

WCU student Ben Evans, a presenter from Manning’s class, said the event also was a learning opportunity for him and his peers from WCU. “By being able to teach these students what we learned, we grew as student leaders,” he said.

Many of the country “stations” included an activity to get the high school students involved. At the Costa Rica station, the students had an opportunity to see traditional Costa Rican dress and get a taste of traditional Costa Rican coffee, one of the Central American country’s major exports. At the Japanese station, students learned to make paper cranes.

Two Smoky Mountain Spanish teachers, Suzanne Tompkins and Brittany Mastromatteo, had favorable things to say about the event. “This allows our students to be more culturally aware and respect other cultures. It lets them indulge in other cultures while not exploiting them,” Tompkins said. Mastromatteo, a WCU alumna, added, “This is not only an opportunity to learn about other cultures, but to reflect on how our culture relates or differs from each one.”

For more information about the event, contact Manning at 828-227-3850 or jmanning@wcu.edu.

(Information compiled by Brooklyn Lipscomb and Ben Evans)

Categories | The Reporter


Photos | WCU News Services

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