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World Culture

Learn more about a country directly from a person who lived there! This series provides a very personal interaction for your group. Our diverse workshops cover countries and cultures from the following continents or regions:

Rebuilding New Life
Photo Memories from Iraq
If you had to choose only 10 items you can fit in your backpack to leave home for a new country, what would you bring? What do you choose to leave? Will you make a choice based on your personal values or based on necessity for survival? In this session, Yaroub Al-Obaidi, a designer, shares his long journey traveling from Iraq, through Syria, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and finally to Philadelphia. He will “visit” each point of his journey with a set of artifacts ---- items that he packed for his departure to a new land. Describing the memories, challenges and hopes he had at each transition, Yaroub explains the contexts of global conflicts and refugee issues, and highlight what life is like for refugees in different parts of the world. Dialogues prompted by Yaroub’s vivid photographs encourage you to think about the complex issues of international affairs in a very personal way.
Kanga
Carriers of East Africa
A kanga is a traditional garment in East African culture. This printed cotton fabric is designed with bright colors and inspirational messages. The kanga serves many functions and communicates messages through riddles and proverbs. Ladies traditionally will wrap a kanga in their own fashion, while gentlemen will offer kangas as gifts. A Kenyan instructor teaches students about the history of kangas, their cultural meanings, and their functions. Groups then create individual kangas using paper collage that features their own messages and African symbols.
Celebrate the Year 4715
Chinese New Year Rituals
Chinese New year is a time of exploding firecrackers and leaping dragon dancers. This workshop takes a closer look at rituals and customs associated with Chinese New Year celebrations and explore the historical origins of these activities. Students will gain an understanding of these rituals, along with their cultural and social significance.
Chinese Characters
A Journey Across Time
What is a Chinese character? Where do Chinese characters come from? How hard is to write a Chinese character? This workshop will examine the developmental history of Chinese characters, a journey of many thousand years. By looking at the transformation of these characters over time and many historical factors behind such changes, students gain a better understanding not only about Chinese characters but Chinese history and culture. Students practice writing some Chinese characters during the workshop.
Listening for a New Nation
Introducing Post-Apartheid Cultural Politics Through Contemporary Indigenous Music Making in South Africa
Musical bows are structurally simple instruments that produce complex sounds. They can be found across the world but are most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa with many variations. In what is now the Republic of South Africa, musicians use these instruments to tell stories of contact between indigenous Southern and South East African peoples and Portuguese, Dutch and English colonists. Bows and related instruments found in the Americas tell similar stories related to the trading enslaved African people across the Atlantic Ocean. In this workshop your group will learn to hear and imitate basic sounds of Umrhubhe and Uhadi, musical bows of the Xhosa people of eastern South Africa, and listen to Classical and contemporary Xhosa music. Through play and discussion, discuss themes and questions around cultural-political identity in the complex history of a country still grappling with the consequences of its colonial and apartheid past.
Sattriya
Spiritual Odyssey, a Classical Dance from Northeast India's Hindu Monasteries
In this workshop, Madhusmita Bora, a performer of the Sattriya Dance Company takes you on a journey through a 600-year-old dance tradition, preserved, nourished and practiced until recently only by celibate monks in a little island in Northeast India. Your group will be exposed to stories from Hindu mythology through the dance, and will also learn about the monks and their lives. There will be masks, costumes and props on display. Along the way, you will be led in movement exercises and will be acquainted with some vocabulary of this ancient Indian tradition.
Native Nations and Tribes - Stories from Native American Voices
The People - Here and Now
Stories from Native American Voices: The People – Here and Now Did you know that there are more than 500 federally recognized Native tribes in the United States? Explore the diversity of Native cultures in this workshop, which focuses on the histories and cultures of two very different North American tribes: one being the speaker’s own Native nation, the Navajo, and the second being the Lenni Lenape, who have lived in the Philadelphia region since immemorial time. Find out how objects speak for their creators, as the tangible aspects of cultural meaning and memory. Then explore the objects on display in Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now with fresh eyes and the knowledge that these objects have unique histories that say something special about the individuals who created and used them, and the cultures from which they come.
My Life in a Bento Box
Ethnography of Japanese School Lunch
This workshop will introduce your group to Japanese school life and culture by closely examining the school lunch period. What do Japanese students have for lunch? Who prepares it? Where do the students eat and how is lunch served? Following a brief discussion of the definition and key components of culture, analyze the school lunch period as a case study. Explore the concept of "wa", which emphasizes harmony, unity and togetherness, grounded on the collectivist culture of Japan. Depending on the age group, the workshop concludes with a hands-on team activity to decorate their own Bento Boxes (lunch boxes) with colorful materials.
Language of Odissi Dance
A Classical Dance of Odisha (Eastern State of India)
In this workshop, explore the Odissi Dance, a classical dance of Odisha, a State in the eastern India. Kakali Paramguru, a doctoral student of dance at Temple University, will guide you through the history of this dance form, dating back to the 2nd century BC. The body movements, expressions, and gestures of Odissi dance illustrate Indian mythological stories and devotional poems. Kakali will demonstrate how stories are told through this ancient dance expressions, and students will learn the language of Odissi Dance and express themselves through basic dance gestures. Groups of less than 120 people will receive a talk, dance demonstration and instructions without the formal performing costume. For a group of more than 120 people, the dance will be performed by Kakali in the formal costume.
Eastern Woodlands Culture
Daily Life and Stories, Pre- and Post-Contact
What it was like to be a Native American before and after European contact? During this program, an educator with Lenape ancestry will use artifacts and storytelling to explain the history and traditions of different Native American cultures. Storytelling was an important aspect of the Native culture, and remains just as important to many Nations today. These stories appeal to different age levels and are complemented by artifacts that students may touch. These artifacts have been acquired or made by the educator herself, and help demonstrate the different roles each gender and age group play in daily village life.
Lets Play Copoeira!
Merging Afro-Brazilian Cultures in a Fight for Freedom
Capoeira is a martial art disguised as a dance, with its own acrobatics, songs, and music. Afro-Brazilian slaves, who weren’t allowed to defend themselves, created Capoeira in the 16th century. They would pretend to be dancing and celebrating, but in fact were preparing a means to escape and form communities in the Brazilian forests called ‘Quilombos.’ In 2014, UNESCO listed the Capoeira “roda” (or circle, inside which Capoeira is played in pairs) as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. In this workshop, learn about the origins and evolution of Capoeira as part of Brazil’s socio-cultural history, discover the musical instruments, rhythms, and songs specific to Capoeira, and learn some basic Capoeira moves so that they can participate in their first “roda” by the end of the workshop.