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ELC first-graders go around the world – Students learn about diversity by studying the globe

By Staff | Dec 20, 2007

ESTHERVILLE–Demoney Elementary first-graders went around the world Wednesday — and they only had to go down the hall.

It was Around the World Day, and the students were treated to customs from India to Denmark to Germany and to Mexico. They also wrote letters to soldiers from Estherville stationed in Kosovo.

In Mrs. Solberg’s room, exchange students currently attending Armstrong-Ringsted High School in Armstrong told the students about their customs.

Morten Vermehren, who lives in a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark, said students there graduate from high school at the ninth-grade level then go on to college.

Sports are handled a little differently in Denmark where youth pay a monthly fee to participate in soccer and other activities. And, as for driving, well, they have to wait until age 18.

Morten drew three strange letters on the board — the three additional letters that Danish has that English does not.

Lara Thiel, an exchange student from Germany, said students there attend school 13 years before going on to college. She said eighth grade in Denmark is equivalent to 10th grade in the U.S.

As in Denmark, Lara had to join a club in order to play basketball which has a 12-month season.

Simon Schlegel, who lives in a suburb of Hamburg, Germany, noted a seven-hour time difference between his home and the Midwest.

This is the first time the three students visited the United States. The students asked the three a number of questions after their remarks.

Simon related how he studied English until he reached the point where he could even think and dream in English.

As for food, Lara said Germany has all the same fast-food restaurants plus ethnic restaurants not to mention the famous German cuisine.

Morten showed the students some Danish money. As for the cost of products in the U.S., clothing and gas are much cheaper while food costs relatively more.

Isidro Pena and Julian Cibrian from Don Jose Restaurant in Estherville also visited with the students.

Pena, owner of Don Jose, showed the students a pinata, a papier-mache horse filled with candy that children strike with a stick when they’re blindfolded. He also snowed them a sombrero and serape, a Mexican cape, and served the children delicious tamales and a rice drunk.

Pena told how the Christmas season is celebrated in Mexico where there are nine festivals preceding Christmas. During the festivals, which are held at people’s homes, everyone enjoys punch and tamales and they break pinatas.

In Mexico, it is the Baby Jesus who brings gifts; however, Santa does still play a significant role. While they’re not evergreens, Christmas trees are still cut and brought into homes.

Children put out their favorite shoe under the tree and pray for whatever they may want in hopes that the Baby Jesus will bring them a gift.

Contact Michael Tidemann at (712) 362-2622 or mtidemann@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com