November 5, 2012
PVCICS Students Forge Multicultural Ties in Pioneer Valley
The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School (PVCICS) commitment to cultural awareness and sensitivity brought a group of students to the heart of Muslim culture in Western Massachusetts.
In late October, the PVCICS 8th and 9th grade classes visited the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts in West Springfield to explore in person a culture and religion the students were learning about in their World History I class. Led by their teacher, Mr. Kevin Lawson and joined by PVCICS guidance counselor Dave Cole and 9th grade ELA teacher Alyson Miller, the students were welcomed by the head of mosque, Imam Wissam Abdel Baki.
“The field trip to the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts was a great cultural learning experience for the students,” said Mr. Lawson. “The students enjoyed seeing the mosque and interacting with the Imam. This visit fit with the students’ classwork in multiple ways. Islam is an important part of world culture and history, but it has also played a role in Chinese culture since early in the 7th century, very early in the history of Islam.”
The highlight of the trip for many students was seeing the mosque and asking the Imam questions about Islam. “The 8th and 9th grade PVCICS field trip to the Islamic Society of Western Mass. helped me to comprehend, acknowledge, and see through the stereotypes and assumptions about Islamic culture and Muslims, and helped me further understand the culture and traditions of the religion”, said Sangha Kang-Le, a PVCICS 8th grader. “We saw some of the differences between Islam and other religions, and also the similarities and shared principles that sometimes go unnoticed."
“Our school has students from many different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, “ said Ms. Kathleen Wang, principal, “We want our students to understand other countries and their cultures by having them interact with real people, not just read about them in textbooks.”
The Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts was established in 1982 as a non-profit organization. In 1983, the first Masjid (mosque) was established in western Massachusetts by the Society in West Springfield, MA.
PVCICS is a tuition-free regional public charter school with almost 300 students this year from over 30 communities in the Pioneer Valley. PVCICS is located in Hadley, Massachusetts and entrance is by lottery. PVCICS prepares K–9th grade students for academic and cross-cultural success through rigorous study and instruction aligned with the state and federal government standards, augmented with Chinese language and culture. PVCICS’s goals are to graduate students with excellent scholarship, high proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and English, and sensitivity to multiple cultures.