New Cultural Education Trunk! Home in the Heartland: Nebraska’s Sudanese Cultures

The Nebraska Folklife Network (NFN) has just released its newest trunk, which is on Sudanese cultures in Nebraska. The Sudanese are one of Nebraska’s newest groups and have brought with them a rich array of cultural traditions. Included in these trunks are interview excerpts from different ethnic groups of North and South Sudan (accompanied with transcripts), flags, clothing items, books, music CDs,  and a teacher’s manual (complete with lesson plans and instructions for teachers). These Sudanese trunks and all other cultural education trunks by the NFN are available to check out free of charge from Humanities Nebraska, located in downtown Lincoln.

New Educational Trunks on Irish and Iraqi Cultures in Nebraska Available for Loan Free to Schools Statewide.

The Nebraska Folklife Network (NFN) is proud to announce two brand new offerings in their ongoing series of multimedia educational kits that portray the histories and cultural traditions of Nebraska’s ethnic groups to students in 4th through 8th grades. The NFN is a statewide non-profit arts and education organization that promotes cultural understanding through the state’s traditional arts and folklife.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day 2012, Shamrocks on the Prairie: Irish Americans in Nebraska, has excerpts from recent interviews with Nebraska Irish American musicians, a noted traditional dancer and an historian, local and international Irish music CDs, photos of Nebraska St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Omaha and O’Neill, a ninety-page teacher’s manual with handouts and lesson plans on Irish history, immigration and cultural traditions, DVDs on Irish immigration and traditional dancing, books of Irish folktales, lore and sayings, replicas of immigrant era clothing, and other cultural objects.

This House is Yours: Iraqi Americans in Nebraska, has interview excerpts from both Arabic and Kurdish Iraqis who have immigrated to our state, DVDs on life in Iraqi, a CD of music played on the oud–Iraq’s official national instrument–photos of Nebraska Iraqis and of their home country, a ninety-page teacher’s manual with lesson plans, recipes for traditional foods, a list of Iraqi proverbs, authentic traditional clothing from Iraq, books of stories and folktales, and much more.

These new educational resources have been made possible by a grant to the Nebraska Folklife Network from the National Endowment from the Arts – Art Works and matching funds from Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska Arts Council, and private donors.

Lesson plans address Nebraska social studies and language arts educational content standards. All materials are contained in a wheeled trunk that is easy to ship, fits in a car trunk and is convenient to transport among classrooms.

Humanities Nebraska in Lincoln distributes all of the Nebraska Folklife Network’s kits through their Humanities Resource Center. The NHC is now accepting reservations for the two new kits on a first come, first served basis from teachers, librarians, museum curators, and other Nebraska educators. The NHC also has the earlier kits in the series, which focus on Nebraska’s Mexican Americans, Germans from Russia, Swedish Americans, and Vietnamese Americans, available for loan.

For more information about reserving trunks, please visit Humanities Nebraska’s website.  Information and reservations can also be made by phone at (402) 474-2131. Kits can be picked up from the Humanities Nebraska office in Lincoln or they can be shipped to borrowers anywhere in Nebraska. The kits provide Nebraska youth a better understanding of Nebraska cultures and their rich traditions.

Since 2005, the kits created have explored similarities and differences in immigration patterns by pairing a more recent Nebraska immigrant group (such as Iraqi Americans or Vietnamese Americans) with an earlier group (Irish Americans or Swedish Americans). Teachers report positive results after using the kits in the classroom, according to Gwen Meister, director and folklorist of the Nebraska Folklife Network. “Kids appreciate cultural traditions more and they especially enjoy interviewing each other about their own folk groups when using the kits,” she said. “It helps them get to know each other in a different way than their usual classroom interactions and also helps them appreciate other cultural groups on a more personal level.”

The multiple resources in the kits can be used creatively to teach youth who learn in different ways. The practical and user-friendly lessons, bilingual books, media, and artifacts illustrate a variety of cultural celebrations, music, crafts, foods, history, language, stories and other aspects of each culture. The kits’ in-depth information promotes increased cultural knowledge and understanding.

Each kit is expected to travel to an estimated 15 schools and youth organizations during the school year, reaching at least 2,500 people annually. Upcoming kits being planned for the series include Sudanese, Latin American and Eastern European cultures.

Contacts: Gwen Meister, Nebraska Folklife Network
(402) 420-5442 & info@nefolklife.org


Mary Yager, Humanities Nebraska
(402) 474-2131, & mary@humanitiesnebraska.org