Bakken students get a taste of Ethiopia | Local News Stories

by Zelalem

Thomas Haskins remembers some of the experiences from his native Ethiopia, where he lived until he was 7. He played with an old bicycle tire, which was his toy. He and his friends also played a game where they would use a stick to hit a ball as far as it could go. Just like baseball — except the next part was that the first person to find the ball got to hit it again.

Haskins didn’t remember the name of this game, or even if they had a name for it.  

Haskins, now 12, is a student at Bakken Elementary. He and his mother, Besky Haskins, led the after-school discussion with his fellow sixth-graders on what Ethiopia was like.

This is Culture Club. Lauren Stone, sixth grade social studies teacher, said the students learn about a different country, once a month.

The Culture Club is part of another effort Stone runs called S.T.E.W. Crew, or Students Touring to Experience the World. The S.T.E.W. students travel overseas, while the Culture Club students learn about other countries in a classroom setting, she said.

Stone said she knew that Haskins, one of her students, came from Ethiopia. This was a perfect opportunity for him, she said.

Haskins described how he felt when he was asked.

“It was cool. Like, it was kinda cool,” he said.

Haskins showed several photos of his time in Ethiopia, including the transition home where his mother first met him. The two of them also brought several artifacts from Ethiopia, including drawings made on banana leaves, money from Ethiopia, toys and more.

Afterward, the students got to sample Ethiopian food — Lauren’s husband baked injera, a sponge-like bread made from teff flour. The students also tried raw coconut and popcorn topped with berbere — a mixture of spices including paprika, cayenne pepper, fenugreek, coriander, cumin and more.

Haskins said his favorite part was showing the photos, which he said brought back memories. He also liked sampling the injera.

When Haskins is fully grown, he would like to return to Ethiopia for a visit. Haskins described what stories he would tell over there, about his time here.

“My family, I guess, and that’s probably it,” he said.

Stone described what the students get out of sessions like these.

“I think they are learning about cultural competence. And just how to live in a world where not everybody is the same, and that’s OK. It’s just opening their eyes to something that maybe they would never have seen before,” she said.  

In addition to Ethiopia, the Culture Club has learned about Cuba, England, Germany, Mexico and Native American culture. Next month, the Culture Club will learn about China, timed for Chinese New Year, Stone said. 

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