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Cottonwood Heights Journal

World Night allows Butler students to explore

Jun 18, 2018 04:59PM ● By Julie Slama

Parent volunteers shared with Butler Elementary students at World Night about their homeland, as Amani Suiniika did explaining typical life in the Fiji Islands. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected] 

Third-grader Tiffany Herrera learned about tigers and butterflies in the rainforests of South America. 

“World Night teaches me about all the animals and places in the world,” she said. “It’s like exploring.” 

Tiffany was at Butler Elementary’s World Night with her grandma, Debbie Glines, and her mother, Danielle Sylvester. 

“World Night allows her to see things that they normally don’t get to see in class,” Sylvester said. 

That may be absorbing the culture of Fiji through learning about curry, rugby and their water or listening to music in the Asia hall. 

Parent volunteer Amani Suiniika said he gave students an idea of typical life in the South Pacific. 

“It’s a simple life, very laid back,” he said. “Fiji is a very beautiful country.” 

Parent Fran Deagle volunteered to teach students about Brazil. 

“Being from Brazil, it’s fun to show students about the culture and have them learn from doing activities that come from the country,” she said. 

Butler fifth-grade teacher Nancy Bauman said many families brought in items to display at the event. 

“It’s an important community gathering that allows kids to understand there’s a world out there that they can experience and learn about their food, culture, art and music,” she said. 

Intertwined with World Night was the artwork each student created that tied into the culture as well as the curriculum students were learning. 

For example, first-graders learned about European painters Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet. Then, they used their own texture techniques with oil pastels and permanent markers to make their own sunflowers similar to Van Gogh’s painting. They also made a lily pond using impressionist techniques similar to Monet. 

Tonia Dalton, who was there to see the artwork of her second-grade son, Collin, said she supports the event. 

“It’s good that they learn anything about the culture beyond Utah,” she said. “Utah is just a small part of the world so this allows them to expand their understanding.” 

Second-grader Ben Hager said he likes World Night. 

“We celebrate all the different things there are,” he said. 

His mother, Susan, said that through World Night both Ben and her first-grader, Cassie, learned about other countries, including that other alphabets don’t have the same letters as they were trying to write their names in Arabic. 

That was just one of many interactive parts of the World Night, which also allowed students to design their own totem poles, listen to stories, taste a French macaroon, create their own Henna design or make their own projects to bring home. There also were food trucks with different cuisines to purchase. 

One highlight was traditional world dance performed by the Brigham Young University folk dancers, said Principal Jeff Nalwalker. 

“That was a big hit and I’d like to have them come back each year and make it a tradition,” he said, adding that it would be fun to include some student performances with the annual event. “It’s important that the community opens our eyes and celebrates our diversity.” 

Students could keep track of what they were learning with passports, which teachers, like second-grade teacher Casandra Mackris, stamped at each station. 

“I think it’s a fun way to get people together to celebrate countries and their people,” she said. “A lot of families come from around the world and this gives us a chance to enrich our lives from learning from one another.” 

Sarah Bunker, who brought four students to World Night, agreed that it’s a fun, community event. 

“They love doing crafts, being with friends and having fun,” she said. “The French program is huge here, so they’re learning more about that culture, but also about cultures from other countries, which deepens their understanding.”