Local students study different culture
This year, as in years past, teacher from Paraguay have traveled to southeast Kansas to spend a month learning about America’s school system.
The exchange program, Pittsburg-Paraguay International Teachers for Tomorrow, is a result of the Partners for America initiative put into place by President Kennedy in the 1960s. Through Partners for America, each U.S. state was partnered with a country or region in Central and South America. Kansas was partnered with Paraguay.
This year, Paraguayan teachers are working at Frank Layden Elementary School in Frontenac, as well as Lakeside and George Nettels elementary schools in Pittsburg. But while they are here learning about our culture, the teachers also are teaching American students a thing or two about theirs.
On Friday, approximately 80 fourth-graders at Frank Layden participated in the school’s first Paraguay Culture Day, an activity aimed at teaching them about Paraguayan culture. The students rotated through four stations: Introduction to Paraguay, Geography of Paraguay, Paraguayan Foods and Flag, and Paraguayan Dance and Music. The Paraguayan teachers served as special guests for the event.
Debbie Restivo, fourth-grade teacher at Frank Layden, said the activity was conducted to help the local students learn about a culture other than their own.
“Activities like this give our students a chance to widen their window on the world,” she said. “The more they learn about Paraguay and the more they learn about another culture, the more they learn that people from another country have many things in common with people in Frontenac, Kansas.”
The program that brought the Paraguayan teachers to southeast Kansas dates back to 2000, when Dr. Alice Sagehorn and Dr. Sandra Greer from Pittsburg State University, traveled to Asuncion, Paraguay to interview dual language and bilingual schools about participating in teachers exchanges. The duo met with six schools and all expressed interest in sending teachers to Kansas. St. Anne’s Colegio, a K-12 dual language school in Paraguay, volunteered to host PSU teachers candidates.
Teachers from Paraguay spent time in Kansas schools in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and again this year. In 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007, PSU teacher candidates visited St. Anne’s Colegio for two weeks.
This year’s PPITT teachers are:
• Maria Nilda Martinez Aleman, who owns the Sunflowers Bilingual School in Encarnacion, Paraguay. She is hosted by Frontenac Spanish teacher Erin Douglas and is working with Debbie Restivo in the fourth grade at Frank Layden Elementary School.
• Olga Beatriz Anastasia Estigarribia de Ribeiro, an art teacher at the Pan America International School in Asuncion. She is hosted by Gustavo Acquino and Rossana Martinez Delgado and is working in the art classroom and ESOL program at Lakeside Elementary.
• Maria Bethania dos Santos Miranda is a sixth-grade teacher at Liberty School in Asuncion. She is hosted by Paloma Perez and is working in second grade at George Nettels Elementary School.