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Ardmore students included these items in a capsule they sent to foreign students.
Courtesy photo
Ardmore students included these items in a capsule they sent to foreign students.

Newspaper In Education: Recommended reading
Sharing Southern culture with the world
Ardmore students send a bit of small town life to peers in Spanish-speaking countries

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com · 340-2445

ARDMORE — When students in Ecuador open their package from Ardmore High School, they will peruse through items meant to show them what life is like in a North Alabama town.

Sun-Drop, because we’ve got to have that caffeine.

A recipe for sweet tea, because, what would go better with our barbecue or fried fish?

Definitions for Southern slang like “reckon” and “fixin’ to” because, well, we doubt that gets taught in their English classes.

And explanations about events like homecoming, because what would we do on fall Fridays without football?

Students in Ardmore’s dual enrollment Spanish class gathered the items and sent them to schools in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Chile and Spain for a project called culture capsules.

Their teacher, Starr Weems de Graffenried, created the project for a book she wrote called, “Teach Your Child Spanish Through Play, A Guide and Resource for Parents.”

Receiving other capsules

When the foreign students receive their capsules, they will return culture capsules to Ardmore.

“It will have items related to their area’s fads, family life, holidays, schools and hobbies,” de Graffenried said. “It will all be in different dialects of Spanish, and most likely their letters will be in conversational Spanish, and my students will have to translate that.”

It takes three weeks for the capsules to make it via mail to the foreign schools. Ardmore should receive their culture capsules in about a month.

“It’s important to learn about other cultures because others know about Americans, but we don’t really know about other cultures,” said student Cindy Threet. “I hope they send us rainforest pictures.”

Student Cody Lyman hopes to get Spanish books and food.

Student Rachel Bridges created a recipe book with Southern recipes like meatloaf, biscuits and gumbo, and de Graffenried hopes the foreign students will do the same.

“That way we can cook some of the recipes they send,” she said.

The postage for the four packages was $206, and Avocent Technology of Huntsville, an international corporation, donated that money.

De Graffenried found the foreign schools on ePals.com, an educational Web site that links schools worldwide for various projects.

She said her students are not only learning about other cultures but also gaining skills for “today’s increasingly multicultural society.”

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