For Massachusetts students, global art exchange paints a picture of cultural identity, connection

paint for lowell articleLowell Community Charter Public School, in Lowell, MA, welcomed families back to school with an International Potluck, kicking off the school’s Global Lowell Program, a year-long exploration of culture through the arts, funded by a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream grant.

Lowell’s students have ties to 23 different countries, and 60 percent speak a language other than English at home. “Ensuring that our curriculum and enrichment projects are culturally relevant to our students and community is one of our top priorities,” said Trent Ramsey, the school’s director of communications and development.

Through OneWorld Classrooms, Lowell students will exchange original artworks with children in 10-12 other countries that will be displayed at an exhibit for parents and the community on April 17, 2014. Sixth graders, who are being trained as guides, will lead guests through the show.

Lowell was introduced to OneWorld Classrooms last school year, when a parent sponsored an online art exchange. “It was inspiring because many of the art pieces that our students viewed from other countries were the art of their home countries: Brazil, Africa, Cambodia,” Ramsey said. “This year, we wanted to expand the reach of the project and involve the community.”

Along with working on art projects for the April exhibit, students are taking Google Earth tours; interviewing family members about their own immigration stories; participating in workshops with an artist-in-residence; and learning about the history, music, family life and customs of Cambodia, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Kenya, Brazil and other countries.

Lowell is also hosting OneWorld Classrooms’ Boston 140 exhibition in March 2014, featuring artworks by K-12 students from Greater Boston and 38 countries.

“For our school, winning a national grant for such an important project was a milestone for us,” Ramsey said. “Thanks to Sharing the Dream, we are able to give our students a unique hands-on way to connect and share with each other about individual cultures, as well as learn about parts of the world they haven’t experienced.”

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Sharing the Dream

Grants for pre-K-8 school projects that create global classrooms where children—and families—can safely connect, exchange ideas and learn together.

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