14 Nations Converge in Duval Youth Exposed to New Cultures

Article excerpt

After this weekend's plethora of national patriotism, a little

foreign culture might be just the ticket to cure an appetite for

"vive la difference."

Look no further than Arlington Middle School, where songs,

dances and skits will be performed for free July 19 by 66 staff

and campers from 14 countries as part of the Children's

International Summer Village's "Open Day" event.

"This allows the public to see what we do, and it offers a

chance for the children to show off their country," said Eleanor

Fails, director for Jacksonville's chapter of the international

program and a teacher at Lakeshore Middle School.

The monthlong program, which has biannually set up camp at

various schools in Jacksonville the past 25 years, was founded

in Cincinnati in 1951 to bring together children and young

people from around the world for friendship and cultural

understanding.

Sixty-two countries regularly participate in the programs, and

currently 62 villages are up and running around the world, said

Fails.

At Arlington Middle's program, each country taking part is

represented by a staff leader who is 21 or older, and two boys

and two girls ages 10 or 11. There are also six junior

counselors ages 16 or 17.

Countries represented in Jacksonville this year are Brazil,

Bulgaria, Denmark, Egypt, Faeroe Islands, Finland, Germany,

Guatemala, Israel, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United

States.

This year, the program had offers from various schools in Duval

County, but chose Arlington Middle School because "its layout

made it easy to live in," said Fails. A small monetary gift was

donated to the school as gratitude, he said.

For one month, this year beginning June 25, the school is

transformed into a camp where children and staff sleep, eat and

run activities. There are special events, such as a trip to

Disney World, but the focus is on cultural exchanges on a

smaller level. For example, kids from Denmark brought brown

cheese to share with others, while Norway's representatives

brought salmon. Participants are serenaded to sleep each night

with lullabies from different countries.

On July 19, the school will be open from 4 to 6 p. …