International scholars discuss cultural differences and caring in “Cultural Dialogue”

Kelsey Misbrener

Four international scholars all agreed that families should care for their elders rather than place them in a nursing home.

The four scholars from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Brazil and Morocco spoke of the different ways their respective countries care for their people at a “Cultural Dialogue” Wednesday in White Hall.

The speakers are part of the International Leaders in Education program. The U.S. State Department sponsored their semester-long stay at Kent State, said Linda Robertson, director for the Center for International and Intercultural Education.

The Cultural Dialogue was part of a series where 16 teachers from eight countries will share their country’s view on this year’s theme – caring.

“I am from a caring country,” Sukanto Roy, an English teacher from Bangladesh, said. “We believe in unity in diversity.”

In the Philippines, elderly citizens have their own organization where they meet with the local and national government to discuss issues concerning their age group.

“We believe that by empowering our senior citizens, we’re caring for them,” Hermes Vargas, a social studies teacher from the Philippines, said.

The country also has youth councils where young people can voice their opinions.

“If we hear the voices of the old people, we must also hear the voices of young people,” Vargas said.

In the public school where Vargas teaches, instructors weigh the students at the beginning of the school year. If they are considered underweight, they are put on a feeding program for a year.

“In Morocco, we like to cheer up children,” said Mohamed Abouabdellah, an English teacher from Morocco.

Families buy their children new clothes before many feasts and celebrations. Moroccans don’t like their children to be sad, he said, especially after a very painful tradition – circumcision.

“Just to help them forget about their pain, we give them lots of money,” Abouabdellah said.

The speakers also discussed their country’s ways of caring for women, the poor, disabled and the minorities.

Judy Rittman, a graduate student, said she thinks the four scholars have much to offer Kent State students.

“Kent is lucky to have these students here,” Rittman said. “I think we should learn a lesson – especially in how they treat the elderly.”

Contact Kelsey Misbrener at [email protected]