State College

Taste of Culture teaches Young Scholars students about life Down Under

Jacki Coiro plays the didgeridoo, an instrument played in Australia during the Touch of Culture at Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School on Friday, March 27, 2015.
Jacki Coiro plays the didgeridoo, an instrument played in Australia during the Touch of Culture at Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School on Friday, March 27, 2015. CDT photo

Treves Li stood in front of about 200 people Friday night and mimicked the sounds of a kookaburra.

His loud bird-like noises could be heard from the hallway of Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School as the audience laughed at his attempt.

Li, 20, was one of three Penn State students from Australia who gave Young Scholars students and their families a taste of what it’s like to be from the Land Down Under.

It was all a part of the school’s annual Touch of Culture event that aimed to teach students a different heritage.

Parent volunteer Shannon Martin said the school focused on Greece, Southeast Asia and Saudi Arabia in the past.

A committee through the Parent Teacher Organization decided to focus on Australia this year since it was a country the students haven’t studied yet.

“They’re able to see the similarities and differences of the countries,” Martin said.

Li, of Sydney, along with Ashleigh Ng, 26, also of Sydney, and Nora Sheng, 22, of Melbourne, gave a brief lecture on animals, foods, geography and festivals native to their country.

Ng said the Penn State students were asked to be a part of the event through the university’s Global Programs.

“It was something we were given the option to do and it’s just really cool to give back to the community,” she said.

Young Scholars teachers also incorporated bits of Australian trivia in class.

“We gave them little teasers of what they could expect,” said fourth-grade teacher Angela Lavrinc. “An event like this works with our mission to feature multicultures.”

Assistant special education teacher Jacki Coiro has been demonstrating the didgeridoo to her students.

On Friday, Coiro played a couple of quick tunes using the wind instrument.

With the use of a brass-instrument technique, it made a loud, deep, bass-like sound that changed pitch with the fluctuation of her voice.

“It’s not hard once you learn it, but there’s a certain way to play it that can be tricky,” Coiro said.

And for students, getting to taste test different foods was the best part of the event.

Fourth-grader Katharine Peters said she wasn’t sure what to expect, but “they weren’t that bad.”

Classmate Gavin McKenna, 9, said he enjoyed the meat pies the most.

Students and their families, and teachers made different Australian dishes for guests to try.

Some goodies included Vegemite, Tim Tams, lamington, and meat pies.

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