"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
What is your child's story?
Art and storytelling transcend time and unite all of humanity. The power of a story can pierce a heart with conviction, soothe an aching soul, provide newfound knowledge and understanding, and can withstand cultural, generational, and personal differences. Similarly, art provides an opportunity for personal expression, can evoke emotion, and can also tell a story. Both mediums of expression extend beyond generations and cultures.
As our world becomes increasingly more global and children increasingly more cross-cultural, new challenges are being discovered: a struggle for cross-cultural youth to define their identity, to live life without feeling rooted in one particular culture/homeland, and to feel a sense of belonging.
Ruth Ven Reken, Co-founder of Families in Global Transition, defines Cross Cultural Kids (CCKs) as: a person who has lived in—or meaningfully interacted with—two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during developmental years. When considering the US Census data that reveal a minority-majority youth population in America by 2020 and the demographic populations that would be considered cross cultural: multiracial and/or multicultural, children of immigrants and refugees, Third Culture Kids (TCKs), international adoptees, missionary and military kids, and children of minorities, we can conclude that the majority of our youth in America are CCKs.
This curriculum is in response to these findings. Our objective is to create an interdisciplinary 6-week unit that will use ELA, H/SS, and Visual Arts as a vehicle for increasing empathy, improving self-identity, and enhancing cultural understanding.
Kelly Christianson is a Master of Public Health candidate at the Boston University School of Public Health. She has experience working in a pharmacy as a technician, both retail as well as hospital. Her interest in the public health field is in the mental health of children globally. Kelly has been with Cultured Kids since May 2016. She grew up in Lynnfield, MA and currently resides in Brookline, MA.
Nicollette Johnson is getting her Master of Public Health degree at Boston University School of Public Health. She is studying Monitoring and Evaluation, and Global Health. She also has an interest in maternal and child health. Nicollette is interning for Cultured Kids as a practicum and will be developing a stakeholder analysis and working with Kelly to create a monitor and evaluation plan.
Cassie Sheets holds a Master’s in Sociology with an emphasis in Inequality and Social Justice and has worked as a nonprofit administrator and adjunct instructor. She is working toward a Master’s in Children’s Literature from Simmons College. Upon graduation, she plans to work toward diversity and inclusion efforts in the children’s literature industry.
Fuko Kiyama is a master's student at the Eliot-Pearson department of child study and human development at Tufts University. She received her Bachelor's degree from International Christian University in Japan. As a third culture kid herself, she has experienced difficulty in seeking her identity. She is passionate about creating educational curricula that supports individuals who cannot identify to a specific culture. She also hopes to create a platform where multicultural individuals can tell their life story. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, baking cookies and watching musicals. She is very excited to be part of the Cultured Kids community!
After thirty-six years in middle school classrooms, Henry continues his love for young adult literature and outdoor experiences through the development of camp programming and consultation work. His partnership with a summer camp in Freedom, N.H., (Cragged Montain Farm) allows him to take direct aim at eradicating NDD (nature deficit disorder) in his lifetime.
Henry lives in Arlington, MA., and is at peace with himself and the world when he is romping through the woods with Pip, the English Setter, or playing with his two-year-old grandson, Edwin.
A question he has often asked adults and young people alike is: What's your BHAG (big hairy audacious goal)?
Irena is Regional Director for The Greater Boston Area. She holds master’s degrees in English and Italian language and literature, and has translated and published texts from and into English, Italian, and Croatian. She was born and raised in Croatia and has been living in the U.S. for longer than she has lived anywhere else.
Irena is also a children's book author, Co-founder and Director of the Croatian School of Boston in the metropolitan Boston area, and a member of the Croatian-American tamburitza band and chorus Pajdashi, which performs traditional Croatian folk songs.
Michelle is Co-founder & CEO of Cultured Kids. She has undergraduate degrees in Studio Art and Spanish from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She spent a couple decades working with and for children, finds joy in any opportunity to be creative, and has a heart to unify the world.
Prior to Cultured Kids she had two other start-ups: developing and implementing interdisciplinary art lessons for children and providing event planning and catering services. She believes that these businesses, along with her extensive experience with children, have paved the way for Cultured Kids. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children.
Narjis Sbiaa has been serving CulturedKids for a year now as our Communications Specialist. She has personal experience growing up cross culturally and is now raising Cross Cultural Kids as well. Aside from her undergraduate degree in Organizational Communication from Rutgers University and a master's in Communication & Marketing from the Institute For Leadership & Communication Studies in Morocco she has a keen interest in behavioral psychology.
What Can My Child Expect From This Program?
Explore Culture Through Literature
We will be developing a list of multicultural children's books that will be incorporated into the curricula and additional books as resources for teachers. We will share literature that helps children to make connections to their lives and to areas of study, provides a clear structure or pattern to storytelling, and that challenges them to be introspective and expressive.
Share Their Unique Story
Each individual story is unique. This curricula will challenge children to explore and share their life story. What are the chapters that can outline their life? Who have been the main characters in their life? What settings have they been exposed to? What conflicts have they worked through?
In addition to sharing their own story the curricula will also ask: What if that happened to me? Whether we are exploring history, literature, or another child's story, our goal is to increase empathy in order to develop stronger leaders and global citizens.
Through literature and community-building activities, children will be able to create connections. They will be able to connect with characters in a book, authors' artistic processes, and peers who are participating in the program alongside them.
The connections they make can bring a greater sense of community and an increased sense of belonging. In addition, through acknowledging the importance of these connections, they will produce a final product that will take this characteristic into account.