Teens and pre-teens from across the East Lansing area came together at the Spartan Village Community Center to learn about different cultures in the spirit of World Friendship Day on Saturday.
In its third year, World Friendship Day is aimed at teaching youth about cultural understanding with guest speakers from MSU and hands-on activities.
Participants learned about Chinese, Turkish and Nigerian cultures, among others.
The event was co-sponsored by the Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing, Greater Lansing United Nations Association, MSU Asian Studies Center and Linking All Types of Teachers to International Cross-cultural Education, or LATTICE.
“I saw what happened to these children when they actually had … meaningful experiences and actually came to know somebody from another culture,” said Karen Klein, director of LATTICE and outreach coordinator for the MSU Asian Studies Center.
“I saw how their world was broadened. I saw how they were changed and how touching those moments were when they really connected with somebody.”
A lunch also was served which included food such as Middle Eastern baked chicken and hummus.
Speakers from Nigeria and Turkey came to speak about their cultures’ customs and history. The Nigerian group taught traditional storytelling. Students learned how to handle Chinese yo-yos with a little help from presenters.
“To me, it’s a very exciting opportunity for me to make a positive impact in the minds of these young children,” said graduate student Abubakar Idris who spoke about Nigerian culture. “Especially when you are young, you don’t see like things beyond your imminent environment.”
St. Johns, Mich. resident Sara Nurenberg came with her 11-year-old son Jacob to experience World Friendship Day.
“It broadens my horizon,” Sara Nurenberg said. “But I think it’s most important to bring my children. Kind of open up doors for them.”
Jacob Nurenberg said he enjoyed learning about the other types of cultures and trying to learn how to use the Chinese yo-yo.
“It was hard, but it’s fun ‘cause you got to try new things that you never tried before,” he said. “It’s kind of cool to see other countries cultures.”