Monday, May 4, 2009

Multicultural Action Plan

Multicultural Action Plan

All cultures share certain hidden values, beliefs, and attitudes that can interfere with a student’s ability to function in the classroom and the teacher’s ability to reach the student. Teachers need to be aware of the essential cultural characteristics that affect their students. Whether they are able to tailor their lessons and content areas to each culture represented in their class or not, teachers can go a long way toward engaging students and connecting with them by showing empathy and cultural sensitivity.
We would try to achieve these ends by considering the following elements of culture in our instruction and lessons:

1) Ceremony: What people are supposed to say and do in certain situations. Example: always kissing upon greeting another person.

2) Gesture and Kinesthetics: Forms of nonverbal communication or reinforced speech (use of hands, eyes, and the body).

3) Grooming and Presence: Differences in personal behavior and appearance (laughter, smile, voice quality, walk, dress, cosmetics, etc.).

4) Precedence: Accepted manners toward elders, peers, and younger persons.

5) Rewards and Privileges: Attitudes towards motivation, merit, achievement, service, social position, etc. For example, does the culture value individual or group achievement?

6) Space and Proxemics: Attitudes about oneself and the land. Acceptable distances between individuals.

7) Concepts of Time: Attitudes towards being on time, early, or late.

8) Religion: Common religious beliefs, customs, or values.

9) Family Values: Family organization, size, obligations, and entitlements. For example, does only the immediate family live together? Or do extended families cohabitate?

10) Language: What is the native language? Is English taught in native country? In what (if any) circumstances is English used? Are there words that have different meaning?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lesson Plan

Topic: Fijian Students in the USA: Understanding Deep Culture

Goal: To enhance understanding of “deep culture” through the study of the Fijian student.


*To familiarize teachers with important aspects of the Fijian culture.
*To strengthen knowledge of deep culture that teachers can apply to any culture they may encounter in the classroom.
*To assist teachers in recognizing elements of deep culture in their classroom so that they can make necessary modifications for successful classroom practices.
*To discuss and explore possible elements of deep culture that might arise in different subject/content areas and how they might be addressed.

Guiding Questions:

*Does knowledge of English assure quality of learning for students of different cultures?
*What common traits might be identified that would help teachers best address all cultures.
*What specific difficulties might Fijian students encounter in our classrooms?


KWL (Know,Want to Know, Learned) Handout

Students will complete the first part of this handout at the beginning of our INTO and complete the handout after our scavenger hunt activity. We will use this information to guide and inform the second part of our presentation.

Information Scavenger Hunt.

Each student will be provided with one fact and a list of questions about the Fijian culture. By mingling and talking with other students in class they will collect as much information as possible about the Fijian culture. This information will then be used to complete the
“Learned” portion of the KWL handout.


1. Maureen will briefly present findings from the KWL survey completed in our INTO.

2. Ariel will present a powerpoint presentation to familiarize class with important elements
of the Fijian Culture.

3. Denise will distribute handout with elements of “deep culture” and discuss with class.


1. Kai will conduct activity in which students can apply elements of deep culture discussed
to their own content areas.

2. Class discussion/share out on their understanding of deep culture and how it can be
applied to their content areas and teaching practice.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sources & Resources

Annotated Bibliography

Bonnay, Charles. FIJI FIJI. [Charles Bonnay and Olivier de Kersauzon, photographs; English text adapted from the original French text by James Boyack] Papeete, Tahiti: Edition du Pacifique, 1972.
This book, while primarily pictures, gives a very good overview of Fiji, the many faces of Fijian people, and the different landscapes, flora & fauna of the islands that make up Fiji. It also touches briefly on important factors affecting Fiji & Fijians.

Goode, Erica. “Study Finds TV Alters Fiji Girls' View of Body.” New York Times, May 20, 1999.
A newspaper article detailing Dr. Anne E. Becker’s findings on the rapid shift in body image and social standing among teenage Fijian girls before and after the introduction of mostly American television.

Orbach, Susie. “Commentary: There is a public health crisis—its not fat on the body but fat in the mind and the fat of profits.” International Journal of Epidemiology, 2005.
This article explores at the ‘demonizing of fat’ in a culture of thin. It argues that the culture of thin is more damaging and quotes a study of Fijian girls from 1995 (Dr. Anne Becker) that demonstrated a correlation between viewing American television and an onset of eating disorders and negative body image.

Scarr, Deryck. Fiji: A Short History. Laie, Hawaii: The Institute of Polynesian Studies, 1984.
Just as the title suggests this book gives a brief history of Fijian history from ancient times to the later 20th century. In a narrative tone peppered with Fijian words, Scarr presents the first written history of Fiji.

Schwartz, Susan. “For Fijians, caregiving runs in family.” Press Democrat, September 23, 2008.
Highlighting the very nurturing side of Fijian culture, the articles touches on several interesting factors, namely that a growing number of Fijians are immigrating to the United States but there doesn’t seem to be an accurate count. Additionally, the article underscores the importance of family & family connections within Fijian culture.

Veramo, Joseph. Growing up in Fiji. Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies and the Fiji Centre, University of the South Pacific, 1984.
While taking a very literal view of growing up – this small volume explains the many milestones of Fijian culture, how children & childhood are viewed and raised. All the information is presented next to/along side Western equivalents.

An insightful news clip about Fijian immigrants living in the Washington DC area. Rather unusual in that it is produced by a Fijian television station. It includes a very interesting interview with a Fijian teenager and his views on the American education system.

An interesting page about Pacific Islander history and culture. It gives an abbreviated version of the history of the region in general.
A Facebook page with a list of "You know you're a fijian when..." facts. Some are silly, others are enlightening.

This is a great website with links to six separate Fiji radio stations that are active & listened to by Fijians around the world including the U.S. It also gives breaking news in Fiji. It’s a great resource for hearing the Fijian language and music from popular to classic. Radio Fiji 1 One is the Fijian National network, sponsored by the government under the Public Service Broadcast (PSB), all in Fijian it includes public, religious, cultural & cross-cultural programming as well as weather & disaster information. Radio Fiji Two is all in Hindi & the "Hindi public service broadcaster" covering music and programming for the Indo Fijians of Fiji. Bula-FM is broadcast all in Fijian and is the "Fijian pop station," including popular Fijian music and programming. Radio Mirchi is self proclaimed "the Rhythm of India," specializing in Hindi movie songs & hits from 1970s to 1990s, it appears to be all in Hindi but I cannot access it. Radio Fiji Gold's tagline "One great song after another,” sounds like an American classic rock station, broadcast in English & playing “adult contemporary” songs from 1960s to 90s and today. 2DayFM is the youth radio of Fiji, specializing in music from 1997 to today focusing on R&B, hip-hop, rap, pop, dance & reggae. It appears to be all in English.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Field Trip #1: Interview

For one of our "fieldtrips," I interviewed a Fijian woman that I was introduced to by a friend. Before coming to America, Alice was a teacher in Fiji. In America, she works for a company that tries to help people get out of debt. I asked Alice a number of questions about what Fijian youth go through when they come to America and the challenges they face in American school. Following is the transcript of the interview.

Ariel: "Do many Fijian children and teenagers come to America with their parents?"

Alice: "Yes, fijian children do come to America with their parents because of education and globalization. Since the world is changing at a faster pace now than ever before parents realize the need to empower their children with a choice of better education. Also education inAmerica has a vast range of subjects learned than back in Fiji. For Example; In Fiji students are able to choose more options when itcomes to areas of Business, Sports, Law, Army, Navy etc."

Ariel: "Do the young Fijians who come to America speak English? If so, do they speak and understand it well?"

Alice: "Yes, young fijians who come to America are english speaking students. Though english is the second language in Fiji we are taught english from kindergarten stage and some even right from their own homes by their parents. This is empowering their children. By doing that parents & teachers allow this young children to learn and understand english at a very young age so that when they are around their school friends they are not lost or left alone wondering how to interact when thrust into an environment that requires them to understand their peers and the school curriculum also."

Ariel: "Do Fijian young people like school in America? Do they do well in school or do they have a hard time?"

Alice: "My point of view is that the initial feelings encountered by these kids are excitement and fear. Excitement because it is a different country, culture and school system and fear because they have never experienced this mode of education before. It would be different for the fijian children who were born as american citizens. From my personal knowledge of kids who attended school here some of them do well and some do not because again of the differing culture and curriculum. But i believe it is also the parents role in assisting their children in those times of transition to help their children understand the changes and encourage them that they can achieve greatness despite the changes from a Fijian school system to an American one."

Ariel: "What are some of the common goals that Fijian young people have for themselves? Do they want to go to college, get a certain kind of job?"

Alice: "Common goals is to be properly educated, graduate and get a good paying job. Also with Fijian children also one of the areas would be in different area of sports/law/business where they excel a lot inprovided they are given the right type of education and attention and recognition they would thrive."

Ariel: "What do you think is the most important thing to Fijian young people? Activities? Values?"

Alice: "One of the important value of life to Fijian young children is being taught to respect their parents and the elderly, proper manners.Also i believe their peers are important to them. In terms of activities it would be attending church, be active involved in the children and youth ministry. Sports i.e playing rugby, basketball etc."

Ariel: "What do Fijian young people like to do for fun?"

Alice: "Fijian young children love sports and also hanging out with their peers and doing something fun, music, swimming, hiking & camping."

Ariel: "What challenges do Fijian young people face here in America?"

Alice: "The greatest challenge fijian young people face in american is Peer Pressure. In fijian culture kids are not allowed to leave their parents home until they have entered into courtship & marriage. If someone does leave home before that it would be a sign of disrespect to their parents. As for american kids by the age of 18 they have the freedom to do what they want. So being confronted with the differing culture here in America, Fijian children are really facing a tough challenge and also parents are finding it hard to control their children. Which when not handled delicately by parents kids rebel and run out of home and as for young girls end up being pregnant and brings shame to their family. So that i believe is one of the greatest challenge for fijian kids in america is the culture shock and adjustment."

Ariel: "How do Fijian young people handle problems or troubles in life? Do they rely on their families, churches, friends for support?"

Alice: "Fijian young people when faced with problems or troubles are first being handled by their parents. If their issues are not resolved their than the pastors or the elders in their churches help counsel them whilst transiting in that process."

Ariel: "What do you think American teachers could do to help their Fijian students succeed in school?"

Alice: "I believe a teacher plays a very vital role in the life of the fijian students or students at large. Being a teacher is not to be taken lightly because the impact they make on these students has a lasting effect. Teachers need to act enthusiastic, smile and genuinely be interested in their students life, and don’t criticize, condemn or complain when being challenged with tough students.Teachers need to visualize great potential in their students abilities and make it clear to them that their destiny is greater than their challenges. They need to realize that building confidence, good speaking skills and education and encourage children to work hard because when they do their is always a reward for them in life - it pays off."

Ariel: "What do you think is most special or unique about Fijians?"

Alice: "I believe it’s the fijian heritage and the culture that is most unique about fijians. RESPECT is of great value and maintain the fijian culture despite globalization is what makes it unique. Despite the differing cultures in Fiji people are challenged everyday to live together in harmony and respect for each other despite their differences."

Ariel:What are some differences between school in Fiji and America? How do teachers and students interact in class in Fiji? Are teachers strict? Are the classrooms noisy or quiet? Do students do a lot of book work or hands-on activities?

Alice: "Yes, there are huge differences between the Fijian schoolsystem and the American system.

Classroom Management - a classroom consisted of 30 - 40 students.If it were any larger than that it will not allow individual attention- especially for weaker students. As for students in the urban area class size varied between 23 - 47. Not enough desks in some classes. In urban schools sometimes there are poor range of materials in someclasses. Sometimes resources varied from ‘plenty of materials’ to‘there was ‘little in the store room’. Sometimes if the classrooms are crowded and cramped it would be overwhelming for students and sometimes they are unable to carry their role plays and group work. Sometimes there are poor seating and spaces for students. Sometimes there are limitations of space for floor work if needed. The most successful lessons were taken in the classrooms where there was lots of space and rooms for student participation. Fijian classrooms consisted of blackboards, chalks, dusters, tables and chairs and adrawing board at the back of the classroom where notes are put up for students to read. While the classes were clean, the chalk board dominated. Every class has a prefect for ensures that whilst the teacher is not in class - student behave and their is order in the classroom. When children misbehave prefects submit reports to the irrespective teachers once class starts.

Teacher/Student relations - Teachers’ encouragement and positive actions towards children is vital. Environmental print - posters,maps, words of encouragement and Maths formula are placed on thenotice boards for children awareness. Displays of children’s work samples and ‘creations’ are an inspiration to students. Learning resources from the library and story telling, forms of texts,mathematics and improved basic science material is also a tool which enhances relations between students and teachers. Teachers’encouragement by being a friend, giving individual attention and treating them as equals is vital.

Yes, students do put their hands up in a classroom setting when they want to address an issue with their teacher or sometimes they stand up to directly address their teacher.

If the teacher is not in class the classroom is bound to be noisy if the prefects do not play their role. But if there is a prefect than students behave and if they don’t they are fully aware of forms of discipline after class i.e stay back after school for an hour to pickup rubbish, pull weeds outside or write on a piece of paper why theyare being disciplined for 30 - 50 times in a sentence form.

Yes, student are given book work to do either in the classroom during class or also as a homework. Homework are given to students. Ineach subject taught in each class, respective teachers will give students work to do at home and submitted next day for marking andgrading. If students do not positively respond to their homework than they will be disciplined after class or school.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where on Earth IS Fiji?

So you know Fiji is a tropical island where people like to vacation. But where is it REALLY?

Census Information

According to the 2000 Census, the Fijian population in the United States has increased 93% since 1990.

In Sonoma County, the Fijian population has increased 60% since 1990.

Hawaii and California have the highest number of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.


82% of Fijians speak a language other than English at home.

26% of Fijians are classified as having limited english proficiency.

11% of Fijian households are classified as linguistically isolated, meaning all members 14 years and older speak a language other than English and also speak English less than "very well."


The average per capital income for Fijians is $14,172.

11% of Fijians are below the poverty line.


33% of Fijians have attained less than a high school degree.

50% of Fijians receive a high school diploma.

8% of Fijians attain a Bachelor's Degree.


74% of Fijians in the United States are foreign born.

36% of Fijians are naturalized


Median household income for Fijians: $44,233

Average household size: 3.8 (the U.S. average is 2.6)

50% of Fijians own homes (72% of whites own homes)

Median Age: 29 (13 years younger than the median age for whites)


Monday, April 20, 2009

Impact of Western Body Image Ideals on Fijian Teenage Girls

Here's an excerpt from an article written by Susie Orbach that appeared in the International Journal of Epidemiology. It seems concerning that along with the hope of prosperity and opportunity, America is exporting its obsession with "thinness" and its preoccupation with body image.

"We now know unequivocally that the result of their promotion of thin is having serious psychological and physical impacts on girls and women. Consider for the moment one of the hidden aspects of global culture: the export of body insecurity and body hatred throughout the world. In 1995 TV, with mainly US programming, was introduced to Fiji, a country not known to have eating and body image problems. Three years later, 11.9% of teenage Fijian girls were found to be bulimic. Anne Becker identifies this phenomenon as a move towards perceived modernity and upward mobility on the part of Fijian teenage girls. To be part of the new global village, girls believe that they need a body that approximates the ones they see on their televisions and billboard. They need to be thin."