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Albright College Partnering with 13th & Union Elementary School on Cultural Exchange Project and Fashion Runway Show

Feb. 24, 2017

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Reading, Pa. – Albright College is partnering with neighboring 13th and Union Elementary School to provide a cultural exchange program for third-graders using the media of art and fashion.

The goal of the program is to teach the children about other cultures, and will culminate in May when the third-graders walk the runway at the annual Albright Fashion Showcase, modeling clothes inspired by the cultures they’ve studied.

Organized by Albright’s fashion department, Albright students will visit the third-graders in their art classes on Feb. 28, and March 7, 21 and 28, to teach the children about the countries of Dominican Republic, India, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea. The students will celebrate the cultures and traditions of those places by creating country-specific artwork, such as origami to represent Japan, and henna designs to represent India.

Albright students will then create garments adorned with the third-graders’ artwork. The 13th and Union students will model those garments at Albright’s Fashion Showcase on May 6.

About 25 third-graders will participate in the program. The several Albright students involved represent various academic majors, as well as diverse cultural backgrounds.

Fashion instructor and program organizer MeeAe Oh-Ranck says the goal of the program is to spread knowledge and understanding of how other cultures express themselves, which is necessary for effectively navigating an increasingly globalized world.

“To expose the young to a myriad of cultural artwork is an especially effective way to generate interest and an increased understanding of how other groups of people view the world and share their artistic expressions,” said Oh-Ranck. “We will work towards appreciating cultural differences through a joyful sharing of artwork.”

Albright seniors and student organizers Mandy Boandl and Camille Fuller, both fashion design majors, spent a semester studying abroad in South Korea and said that experience instilled in them the importance of teaching others, especially children, the value of having a global perspective, and the importance of celebrating diversity. Also participating in the program are Albright students Natsumi Ito ’17 and Nick Steiger ’18.

The program is made possible through Albright’s educational partnership with 13th and Union Elementary School. Through the Partnership, dozens of Albright students from various majors volunteer annually at the elementary school. They provide after-school tutoring and homework help, and mentor and forge strong connections with the children. Albright students also conduct service learning and research projects at the school, and gain real-world experience.

Students from 13th and Union also visit Albright’s campus each year for fieldtrips, participating in programs in the arts, sciences and humanities.

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Founded in 1856, Albright College educates creative, curious students to become adaptable, global citizens who discover and reach their full potential. The College’s flexible interdisciplinary curriculum encourages students to combine majors and disciplines to create individualized academic programs. Close faculty mentorship, numerous experiential learning options, and a diverse, supportive and nurturing community of scholars and learners help students exceed their own expectations and graduate with a commitment to a lifetime of service and learning. Located in Reading, Pennsylvania, Albright enrolls more than 1,800 full-time undergraduates and 700 adult learners and graduate students.