African students at LA

Caption: Lincoln Academy students from Africa talked about their home countries in Lorna Fake’s second grade class last week. From left: senior Toru Fiberesima from Nigeria, sophomore Carole Ikaze from Burundi, and junior Prince Shema from Rwanda.

On Thursday, February 2, three Lincoln Academy international students visited the second grade at Great Salt Bay School in Damariscotta to talk about life in Africa as part of the second grade Africa unit. All three students hail from Africa: Toru Fiberesima is a senior from Nigeria, Prince Shema is a junior from Rwanda and Carole Ikaze is a sophomore from Burundi.

Each high school student gave an introduction to their home country, and then second graders asked questions about things that particularly interested them. After the presentation Mrs. Fake asked students to write down the parts of the presentations they remembered best. Their comments are excerpted below.

Toru began the presentation by talking about life in Nigeria, where she spent her childhood before moving to London in middle school. “We learned that Nollywood is bigger than Hollywood,” Mrs. Fake’s students wrote after the visit. “She showed us a video of two children playing a game moving their hands and feet, called ‘leader.’” “We saw pictures of her family at a birthday celebration.” “She showed us pictures of her Nigerian foods.” “She told us lots of foods in Nigeria are spicy.” “Toru’s favorite food is fried sweet dough balls.” She brought in a special white dress to show us with a colorful design on it.”

Prince presented next, talking about his home country of Rwanda. He showed the students a picture of the Rwandan flag, and explained what each color stands for. The students wrote afterwards, “the flag is blue, yellow and green. Blue is for peace, yellow is for sunshine and green is for farming.” “He showed us photos of fields of coffee beans.” “We asked Prince if he said the Pledge of Allegiance in Rwanda, he told us they had a national anthem. We asked if he would sing it and he did! It was in a different language. It sounded great. Prince is an amazing singer.” “Prince told us he wasn’t sure if he would stay in America or go back to Rwanda.”

Carole told the second grade classes about Burundi, where she grew up, although now her family members live all over the world. She has a brother in China and a brother in Canada. Carole went to school in Texas for a year, and then moved to Lincoln Academy in September. The students remembered, “we learned that Burundi borders Rwanda.” “Carole showed us pictures of three very fancy hotels in Burundi. She told us about churches in Burundi and that there were many different religions. They have to have fake Christmas trees!” “We learned they grow lots of bananas.” “They don’t build houses out of wood because they are afraid of them catching on fire.” “Burundi doesn’t have baobab trees or elephants!”

This is not the first presentation Lincoln Academy international students have made in elementary schools. In the five years since the LA Residential program began, groups of students from various countries around the world have visited local elementary schools to make presentations about their language and culture. Before Christmas, LA students presented “Christmas Around the World,” teaching GSB second grade students about the traditional celebrations in Denmark, Germany, Spain and Turkey.

Speaking to local elementary students offers an opportunity to spread the multicultural impact of the Lincoln Academy international program beyond the walls of LA, and it is a mutually enriching experience. The presentations “provide GSB students with a wonderful opportunity to connect what they are learning to real people, and Lincoln students have been happy to share about their culture and history,” said Kelley Duffy, a social studies teacher at Lincoln Academy who is also a GSB parent.

“It’s a pleasure to help in something that will impact the society of tomorrow and have them discover new things,” said Prince Shema, “especially understanding that it’s somewhere I come from. I am proud of it and would like to help anyone to understand Africa.”

“It meant a lot to the second graders to meet high school students who grew up in Africa,” said Mrs. Fake. “I think my students can relate better to Africa because now they know people who have lived there. We are very grateful to the students for taking the time to speak to our second grade classes.”