Mamdou’s visit promoted a rich intercultural exchange for the students.
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On October 6th, the preschool students from the bilingual school Tigrinhos & Golden Tigers received a special visitor named Mamadou from Mali, in Africa. He came with Andrea Bomilcar, president of the Rizoma Institute in Mali. The kids were thrilled to have him participate in their Big Circle and hang out in class.
The visitor from Mali, who is also the organization’s coordinator, took the kids on a time-traveling journey. Mamadou explained his country’s cultures and traditions, starting from the population’s daily habits from decades ago. Among the many items he brought to showcase was a beautiful Malian hat, made from straw to protect people from the effects of sun and rain during arduous work outdoors.
Mamadou explained that “long ago, each person belonged to one ethnicity according to their kind of work. There were those who worked with livestock or in the iron industry, which determined their social group.” He told the kids all about Mali’s rich cultural diversity and architecture variety, showing them textile prints, drawings (called Bogolan), as well as personal objects and photos. “Today, these pieces are used only for decorations in the home,” he noted.
Mamadou said that colors used in the dye were extracted from tree trunks and leaves. “Each ethnicity was known for a particular print. Ethical beliefs were expressed in the drawings; for example, people on the right path walk in straight lines, while people heading in the wrong directions tend to use uneven lines. People lived in mud huts. From the first glance, you could see who lived where because the roofs had symbols corresponding to parents and the number of children,” he concluded. Mamadou also talked about the Mosques in Mali, which had holes in the wall to allow more light inside, but also had to be covered quickly in case of rain.
Andrea Bomilcar talked about some of the projects being done by the Rizoma Institute in partnership with a professor from the University of São Paulo “We are working on a documentary, made by children from all corners of the world. The kids were invited to draw the women from their cultures on wood, after which we analyzed how they each depicted the same theme. We also observe how long the drawing takes to decay on the wood. The students from Tigrinhos & Golden Tigers have been participating in this project for a few months now. This kind of multicultural approach is incredible,” stressed the organizations president.
Perry Krassner, a specialist in bilingual education from Tigrinhos & Golden Tigers, explained that Mamdou and Andrea were invited to school in order to promote an intercultural exchange between students here and in West Africa. “We see this as a unique opportunity for sharing customs and traditions from vastly different places, expanding on the kids’ cultural knowledge. The students got to see self-portraits from children in Mali, and vice-versa. Absolutely amazing,” he concluded.