International Classroom is a innovative and creative program of the Penn Museum's Learning Programs Department. Our mission is to engage students while promoting intercultural understanding between residents of the Delaware Valley area and people from around the world.
"You make the world a little more real by sending visitors to my classroom. I teach some of the brightest students in Philadelphia, but also some of the poorest. You helped expand their universe. They are now talking about visiting the places they have learned about."
The 47th Annual International Student Reception is October 14, 2016. Learn more about the reception!
Through the support of local corporations, foundations, and individual donors, the Penn Museum is able to offer a limited amount of free programs to underserved (Title 1) Philadelphia public schools each year.
Winner of the Pennsylvania Council for International Education’s 2013 Bringing the World to Pennsylvania: K-16 Collaboration Award
About the Program
International Classroom arranges for international residents, students and scholars living in the Delaware Valley to give presentations about their countries of origin and their cultures.
Programs are offered for school classes and assemblies, community organizations, college courses, teacher workshops, study groups and businesses. As more schools make a commitment to giving students exposure to different cultures and other perspectives on the world, International Classroom becomes a valuable resource for teachers and curriculum planners. Language classes are enriched by presentations about the culture associated with the language the students are learning. International speakers facilitate a deeper understanding of ancient civilizations and modern history in Social Studies classes.
International Classroom presentations are lively and personal, given often in traditional dress. Interactive components encourage questions and audience participation. Speakers share information about the geography, language, economy, education, religion, recreation, family life, customs, current affairs, and US American perceptions of their home countries.
Explore the World's Rich Variety of Cultures
International Classroom programs stimulate curiosity and appreciation for the diverse cultures of people around the world. They raise tolerance for differences, an important goal in today's multicultural society and global economy.
International Classroom engages a pool of about 150 speakers from 50 countries and six continents. They make hundreds of presentations throughout the Delaware Valley each year.
This program brings school classes and community groups to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for a gallery tour and a presentation by a speaker from a country in the featured area. For example, a visit to the Mexico and Central America gallery is followed by a talk about contemporary life in Mexico. The Museum's other galleries feature artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Canaan, Africa, China, Native Americans of the Southwest and Northwest Coast, Greece and Rome.
Visits to Your School, Community Group or Business
Graduate students and scholars teach school groups about the many different dimensions of culture, including beliefs, rituals, language, architecture, clothing, and social organization. This helps students to reflect on their own cultures.
International speakers share information about their home countries through presentations featuring slides, photographs, maps, traditional music, clothing, games, dance, or crafts.
"Thank you for coming to our school and telling us about Liberia. Personally I liked the monkey story and how we had to sing for the monkey to go up the tree, and then we had to sing for him to come down. This folktale told us a very special thing: you don't know what you have got until it's gone."
Arranging an International Classroom Program
For more information on program possibilities, contact the International Classroom office. Please call at least six weeks in advance to book a program at your location or to arrange a museum visit. Program fees vary according to the number and length of the presentation, the size of the audience and the speaker's travel expenses.
Preview an international class on Contemporary China from the Penn Museum.
Become an International Speaker
International Classroom accepts international residents, students, scholars, and artists as new speakers throughout the year. There are workshops for new presenters every fall and spring. In addition, we provide ongoing training and coaching of participants. New speakers fill out a card with biographical information and areas of expertise. This information is useful to prepare the audience for the presenter they will meet. In order to assure the quality of International Classroom programs new speakers are expected to provide an outline of their presentation, so staff can give them constructive feedback about how best to reach an American audience.
"As an African I have had the opportunity to present Africa as a culturally diverse continent with a lot to offer in terms of dance, music, language and religion, aspects which are often ignored by the mass media. My goal is to give as accurate a picture as possible so that the students who are future decision-makers will make wise decisions about the nature of cooperation between our two countries. An understanding of one another will lead to peace and prosperity for all."
International Classroom was created in 1961 at a junior high school in suburban Philadelphia as the "Ogontz Plan for Mutual International Education." Founders Evelyn and Norman Palmer viewed the many international students at colleges and universities of the Philadelphia area as an untapped reservoir of knowledge about the cultures of their home countries. Concerned that young Americans knew very little about the rest of the world, the founders developed a program that promoted international understanding between residents of the Delaware Valley and people from all over the world. They envisioned this program as a two-way street: it would also give international students the opportunity to learn more about the United States of America and its diverse communities. Since 1987, International Classroom has been an integral part of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology's education program. Since its founding in 1961, our speakers have visited over 10,000 classrooms and other settings throughout the region.
International Classroom is supported by program fees, the Education Endowment of The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the generosity of foundations, corporations and individual donors. Contributions are tax-deductible.
International Classroom's Meet the World program, which provides free tours and intercultural presentations for disadvantaged public school children is made possible by the kind support of the following sponsors:
Aker Philadelphia Shipyard
Robert L. and Agnes Cook Bard Foundation
Christopher Ludwick Foundation
Christian R. & Mary F. Lindback Foundation
"The Global Philadelphia Association spotlights Philadelphia as an international hub of business, education, culture & innovation, showcasing the Region's global character. Visit globalphiladelphia.org