Recently, the children and staff participated in an annual tradition celebrating the International Day of Peace. Each year, the children make pinwheels decorated with reminders of what peace means to them. We meet in the gym for a school-wide assembly where we sing and each child places a paper crane in our community jar. Last year's cranes have been strung and will be sent for display at the Children's Peace Monument in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. Finally, the children "plant' their pinwheels in the Wilmington Montessori Peace Park in the front of the school.
This important day is one example of how we encourage children to become responsible contributors to the global community. This work begins here at Wilmington Montessori School where children and adults learn to understand each other, develop empathy and respect for our unique gifts and challenges, and appreciate how each of us contributes to the greater good of the school community. Morning meetings where children greet each other, share about themselves, participate in a fun activity, and sometimes address and solve classroom problems together is one way that this happens every day in our classrooms. A family sharing their culture, traditions, foods, and special celebrations is another way that we foster understanding between individuals.
In her recent book, Growing up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, Homa Sabet Tavanger offers parents practical ways to partner with their school and include the concept of world citizenship as a family value. Tavangar's book is shaped by her personal experience living in The Gambia with her three daughters for three months several years ago. Watching her children living in The Gambia, Tavangar saw that friendship is the foundation which allows children to develop empathy and respect for others. Each chapter in Tavangar's book corresponds to things you would do with a friend such as greeting each other, celebrations, and sharing meals - exploring them through the lens of different cultures. These simple suggestions can be implemented easily at home, and yet, as Tavangar suggests, go a long way in creating cross cultural understanding and tolerance.