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A cultural connection: Heartland Elementary shares with South Korean students through exchange program

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By Kelly Cantrall

Heartland Elementary students soon will ship bits of the Bluegrass State overseas after this week receiving their own trove of culturally significant treasures from students thousands of miles away.

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Students at Heartland participated in a culture exchange with students at the UNESCO Global Peace Village in South Korea. On Thursday, Heartland students prepared a box of items that reflect Kentucky and American culture and opened a box from South Korean students.

The box from the South Korean students contained items including hand-drawn pictures, a lesson on the Korean alphabet, fans and origami cranes, and a letter from the class.
“We want a world that is full of peace and friendship,” they wrote.

For Heartland’s box, the students will include their own drawings, a book titled “Santa in Kentucky” and a scrapbook of photos of students participating in different activities.
Fourth-grade teacher Cindy Mahon learned of the opportunity at ePals.com, which offers a multitude of exchange programs. She partnered with fifth-grade teacher Gayla Routt and they began preparing for the exchange. The opportunity provides lessons in Kentucky and U.S. culture for students and a chance to learn about another country. They researched both as part of the project.
“Now they know a little bit more about South Korea than just (that) Psy comes from there,” Mahon said, referring to the “Gangnam Style” singer.
Students cheered as Mahon and Routt opened the box from their South Korean counterparts.
“I was pretty curious to see what they would send,” fourth-grader Ariah Hall said.
They were eager to send South Korean students items from Kentucky, which were presented Thursday to the Heartland classes by a few students. Ariah presented the drawings.
“A lot of the pictures represent Kentucky culture, and that’s what we wanted them to see,” she said.
Fifth-grader Ally Mahon included a rainbow loom necklace and directions on how to make one.
“I thought the necklace was important because it’s a very popular trend in America,” she said.
Ariah was struck by the similarities of the objects the two schools exchanged. Fourth-grader Savannah Weber said it showed they share some of the same hobbies.
“Maybe they want us to realize our differences and what we have in common,” Savannah said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.