Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

International Campers Fuzzy on the Fourth

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

International Campers Fuzzy on the Fourth

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton, Times-Union columnist

As fireworks explode and burgers sizzle on the grill, most of us will have at least a vague idea tomorrow why we are celebrating.

Americans may be, by and large, historical ignoramuses. But most of us have some sense that the Fourth of July is important because it is the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

On the other hand, most of the kids at the Children's International Summer Village camp at Lake Shore Middle School are pretty clueless about what we'll be celebrating tomorrow.

"I think it's called national night," said Xyzquo (pronounced Chico) Giardri Drasnindan Poernomo, an 11-year-old Indonesian.

"It's the day for America to celebrate your victory over -- I think -- the English," said Christian Caspersen, a 12-year-old Norwegian.

That these kids don't really know what the fuss is all about is entirely understandable. Of the 48 kids, most 11 years old, spending four weeks at the Jacksonville camp, only four are Americans. The rest represent 11 other countries: Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Thailand.

Tomorrow, the American delegation will get to explain American culture, including backyard cookouts and fireworks displays. Which is entirely appropriate since the purpose of the international village program is to teach children about other cultures.

The program was launched after World War II, by Doris Allen, a Cincinnati psychiatrist. According to the international village's Web site, Allen wanted to "foster intercultural knowledge and understanding as the cornerstone for creating peace in a world which had seen too much war."

She created a program that would bring delegations from different countries together in "villages" to explore each other's culture. …

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