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Culture kit success

Year of the pig

by Catarina Massa, MPA '19

SEAP Outreach in collaboration with other area studies programs of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies has maintained a digitized lending library since 2016. While items are mostly curated for K-12 and community college educators, anyone can check out the collection of books, movies, music, and over fifty culture kits online at As the most popular items in the library, the culture kits provide students with hands-on and engaged learning experiences. Each kit is filled with objects that pertain to a particular country, culture, and/or theme.

Kara Wilcox, social studies teacher and co-advisor of the culture club at Dryden High School, has used the culture kits multiple times. Most recently, she used the Chinese Calligraphy Kit to teach her culture club students about Lunar New Year and the Year of the Pig. According to Wilcox, the culture kits have always been an important resource to her and her students.

"The kits are useful because they help generate student interest in learning about different regions of the world," Wilcox said. "Learning about the history of a place is often meaningless without also developing an understanding of and appreciation for the culture."

The lending library is available to any patron, no matter institutional affiliation or professional background. Autumn Palmeri, a Girl Scout troop leader, recently checked out the Thailand Education Kit to share with her troop. The children were able to try on school uniforms from Thailand and play some games. Palmeri said that she appreciated the opportunity to expand her troop's horizons a little more while also providing them with a fun and engaging learning experience.

Culture kits are meant to bridge the physical gap between us and the rest of the world. When children and young adults have the opportunity to explore international studies with tangible artifacts from many different regions, they can better understand cultures separate from their own and develop interests that they may never have had the chance to delve into before.

"I have integrated the kits into my classroom as a way to introduce a new part of the world that we haven't yet studied," Wilcox said. "By displaying the contents of the kit and allowing students the opportunity to see and touch some of the items, they're able to ask questions of curiosity that help to facilitate our class discussion."