Talk Library to me

Amanda Brasfield September 18, 2016

In order to increase awareness of students of the diversity, particularly different languages spoken in our community, students will be exposed to members of the community from diverse backgrounds, with an emphasis on languages, food, and books.

Type: Active
Age: High school
Optimal size: 11-20
Estimated cost: $100+
Planning time: 5+ hours
Frequency: One-time

Learning outcomes

Students will gain empathy and compassion for people of other ethnicities in our community. 

Students will gain language skills in languages spoken and signed in our community. 

40 Developmental Assets- Connections: Students will spend time participating in school activities and students will develop cultural competence and a comfort level for people of different cultures.


Concept: To bring together high school students with the various diverse community and collegiate organizations that already exist in our city in order to increase cultural awareness.

Purpose: To expose students to the diversity that already exists in our community but to which they do not have access on a regular basis, and to introduce students to the cultures with an emphasis on language.

Preparation: Contact organizations in the community that bring together people who speak different languages. Examples may include museums, professional organizations, multicultural centers, international clubs, or groups. A local university is also a great place to make contacts. There are often students who are from other countries, studying in the U.S. There may also be teachers in the community or university professors from other countries who speak multiple languages who would be willing to share information.  If people are not available in the community and can appear in person, you can reach out to people via Skype at universities. 

To bring in student involvement, students in foreign language classes can be invited to present projects, perform skits, or present research in the library during the week, as well.

Implementation: Over the course of one week, we will highlight one locally represented culture each day in conjunction with a community or collegiate organization. The groups will share their language and introduce students to the writers and illustrators that represent their culture. Students will have the opportunity to sample foods, write in the language, hear the language, and see representative texts written in the language or by authors/illustrators from the culture. Each weekday will feature a different presentation group. Any student will be able to attend during their study hall time or during their lunch. 

Groups are asked to share their language and culture in a 45-minute program. We provided each group with $50 to offset any costs associated with their visit (food, books, etc.). 

For example, a group of Japanese university students will lead high school students through a Chopstick Challenge. Students will have to use chopsticks to pick up and move various foods and to complete different challenges. The school provided the funds for purchasing the chopsticks and food items to be moved. 

To support any interests cultivated by the program, the library also purchased $600 worth of books featuring characters from the cultures we invited to the school. We also purchased books that dealt with languages or cultures that were taught in the school. 

Extension: Not all languages are spoken. American Sign Language and computer programming languages could also be included in a multilingual program.  An international film festival would work well in a setting with longer blocks of time. Showing TV shows from other countries would also be fun. 


The library will conduct an exit survey of students who participate in the activities each day. Students will be asked the following questions:

Were you aware that this population existed in our community?

Do you feel that you better understand the culture you learned about today?

Are you more likely to check out a book with characters or a setting feature the culture you learned about today?

Other resources

Some of the books we ordered included the following:

501 French verbs fully conjugated in all the tenses in a new easy-to-learn format, alphabetically arranged by Kendris, Christopher

501 Japanese verbs : fully described in all inflections, moods, aspects, and formality levels in a new easy-to-learn format, alphabetically arranged by Lange, Roland A

601 Spanish verbs by Langer de Ramirez, Lori

The Arab of the future : a graphic memoir : a childhood in the Middle East (1978-1984) by Sattouf, Riad

Becoming Maria : love and chaos in the South Bronx by Manzano, Sonia

The bitter side of sweet by Sullivan, Tara

Bombay blues by Desai Hidier, Tanuja

A brief history of Saudi Arabia by Wynbrandt, James

Classic Japanese : over 90 simple and stylish recipes by Fukuoka, Yasuko

Dare to disappoint : growing up in Turkey by Samanci, Ozge

Dream things true : a novel by Marquardt, Marie F

Exploring the life, myth, and art of Japan by Allan, Tony

Folktales from the Arabian Peninsula : tales of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen by Taibah, Nadia Jameel

From the mango tree and other folktales from Nepal by Shrestha, Kavita Ram

Hunt for the bamboo rat by Salisbury, Graham

Lafcadio Hearn's "The faceless ghost" and other macabre tales from Japan by Wilson, Sean Michael

Post a program

Post an activity that you think will be useful to others.

Related by tag