Let’s Sing “Welcome!”
It’s circle time at Albany Preschool! Children scamper to their places, settle in and sing the “Welcome Song” to each other. Then they sing it again, in Spanish…and in Hebrew, in three dialects of Chinese, Urdu, Japanese, and Polish…every single day.
Our morning and afternoon programs sing in different languages based on the staff and families in those programs. We plan to add Korean and Kyrgyz soon.
We Are All Citizens In a Multicultural World
At Albany Preschool, we’re proud of the rich cultural diversity of our students and staff. Many of our families are multiethnic or multilingual; several have recently arrived from other countries. We learn alongside and from each other, reaching across and celebrating our differences. We get to know people of many different backgrounds, religions, languages and customs.
Living Together, Working Together
We’re not the only diverse school around, of course. Our location is part of the equation; the Bay Area is a place of many colors and cultures, and people come from all over the world to study or work at UC Berkeley. This is to our advantage. Multiculturalism cannot be taught directly. It cannot be trivialized into a separate unit (“let’s have Multicultural Week!”) Rather, it’s living and working together in community every day, and learning to share with each other.
The co-op structure of our school means that families are involved and known. People are, after all, what make APS. Teachers, parents and students each bring something special to the table. A wise person once said, “There’s a tour guide in all of us!”–that is, deep down, most people enjoy guiding others through something they know well. Sharing something dear and personal helps a student feel accepted and appreciated. That feeling of belonging is so important; some call it a prerequisite to growth, and therefore to learning.
Whether it’s a child newly arrived from Taiwan teaching the class to sing in Mandarin, a Polish grandmother teaching the children how to make plaki in the school kitchen, or a mother from Japan showing our teachers and parent participators how to make sushi for future snacks, the culture of our families provides the scaffold for our learning.
Long noodles and tangerines for snack. May we all have a long and lucky life!
More tasty foods we serve at snack time: pupusas, homemade tortillas, rice triangles, seaweed rice bowls, kim bap (stuffed seaweed rice rolls), long noodles, fried rice, mochi, kugel, and latkes.
On that delicious note, let’s keep delighting in our differences. Let’s show our children how to treat each other with kindness, respect, and appreciation while their minds are open and their hearts soft. Let’s look one other in the eye, sing in our many languages, and hold hands out to each other in welcome.