Multicultural Exhibit Featured at Area Children’s Museum


University of Scranton senior education major Maggie Coyne of Stony Point, N.Y., believes one of the most important lessons a child can learn is that people are all amazingly similar – despite regional or cultural differences. It was this idea that propelled Coyne and a group of about 20 other Scranton students to volunteer to help create “Glocalize: Globally Inspired, Locally Made.” The multicultural exhibit is now on display at Timmy’s Town Center at The Mall at Steamtown in downtown Scranton.

 According to Timmy’s Town staff, the purpose of “Glocalize” is to “teach kids that the world is a cultural mosaic, with ethnicities from all over the world right here in northeastern Pennsylvania. Our exhibit takes kids on a trip around the world – without the travel.”

Glocalize consists of four exhibits that introduce local children to the customs and cultures of Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and South Korea. The staff and volunteers of Timmy’s Town Center were responsible for the Mexico exhibit. University of Scranton students involved in the CEC (Council for Exceptional Children), SECUS (Education Club of the University of Scranton) and ACEI (Association for Childhood Education International) clubs at Scranton created the Ireland, South Korea and Kenya exhibits. “Glocalize” was a labor of love for the students, since working on the project was not academically required. The students' time and effort was offered on a purely voluntary basis.

Each exhibit features a globe pin-pointing the exact location of the subject nation; a clock set to the time of that nation; and the nation’s flag. There are also books, traditional clothing and a map from each country. Each exhibit also features artifacts from the country. For example, children can practice using chopsticks at the South Korean exhibit or examine a step-dancing costume at the Irish exhibit. The museum’s puppet theater has been transformed into an authentic Mexican hacienda. In addition, visitors can sample ethnic music and take authentic recipes home to sample each nation's cuisine.

However, Coyne said that what interests young visitors most are the pictures from other countries. “The children are fascinated to see other schools and other playgrounds. When they look at them, they can see that although there are differences, the similarities are more striking,” she said. “In Kenya, for example, the children learn that ‘rafiki’ (the name of a Disney Lion King character) means ‘friend.’ It’s just so cool to see them making these connections … that although we are vastly different cultures, fundamentally, people are the same.”

Coyne, who is an officer of two of the three participating clubs, credits University of Scranton education professor, Tata Mbugua, Ph.D., with tremendous help on the Kenya exhibit. Dr. Mbugua, who taught in Kenya, maintains connections with a Kenyan school.  Through her efforts, children visiting Timmy’s Town in November were able to write letters to children on Kenya. Replies are expected before the exhibits closes on Sunday, Feb. 19.

For additional information, contact Timmy’s Town Center at (570) 341-1511.

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