Voices from My Childhood

Posted on July 1st, 2015 by

SuperKids, a summer camp program, is organized by a nonprofit called Parks and People Foundation. The organization is “dedicated to supporting a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities; creating and sustaining beautiful and lively parks; and promoting a healthy natural environment for Baltimore.” So it’s only fitting that SuperKids takes a group of young, inquisitive learners around different places in Baltimore, expanding their environmental sights and experiences as well as their vocabulary list. The Jewish Museum of Maryland has been privileged to be one of these sites for the last few years during their Jonestown neighborhood tour.

On a wet and muggy Tuesday morning, a yellow school bus reminiscent of my own elementary school days brought 25 eager students to the museum’s red brick road. They were extremely well behaved for kids who would essentially be on a different field trip every day for the summer. It was me who couldn’t contain the excitement of seeing my fellow peers (I may look like a 20-something year old, but I’m a child at heart). Since the group was too large to take all at once, Lois, one of our super volunteers, took half of the kids on a tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue while Falicia and I took the other half to do two activities- a scavenger hunt in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and an archaeology puzzle activity.

I’ve never been one to simply observe, so here I am “making” a traditional Sabbath dinner with some of the kids while reading them the newspaper.

I’ve never been one to simply observe, so here I am “making” a traditional Sabbath dinner with some of the kids while reading them the newspaper.

While Falicia helped with the archaeology “dig,” I assisted with the Voices of Lombard Street portion where the talk of immigration brought back my own memories of my parent’s journey to this country from South Korea for the “American Dream.” Unlike the Jewish immigrants who came to Baltimore on a ship, my parents took a plane, and they weren’t fleeing religious persecution. But I remember rolling my eyes at my parents every time they lectured me on how hard they worked to build a nice home for the family, and how they too worked menial yet necessary jobs beyond their intelligence and skills. I remember threatening my parents to call child services for making me work at their dry cleaners on my free Saturday, only to be bribed by McDonald’s. Like Paul Wartzman whose mom used to make gefilte fish every Friday, my grandmother used to make dduk-mandu-guk (rice cake and dumpling soup) every Sunday. And how my mom used to drive out of her way to go to a Korean market not just for authentic Korean food from the Motherland, but for human interaction with people who also spoke her native language.

This is me, age eight, standing in front of my new house being built. Although we only lived here for a year, this was a milestone for my family because it was the first home that truly belonged to us. No more living in relative’s homes and no more renting.

This is me, age eight, standing in front of my new house being built. Although we only lived here for a year, this was a milestone for my family because it was the first home that truly belonged to us. No more living in relative’s homes and no more renting.

And for me to now teach elementary school kids about that same topic brings this whole experience to a full circle. To set the record straight, I’m a natural born U.S. citizen and I’ve learned to not take that for granted.

I’m not Jewish. My family is Christian, and in fact, I’m part of a very loving and active church community. I came to work at this museum, excited to learn about another religion and perhaps learn more about my own. I didn’t expect to have much in common with those who lived on Lombard Street, but as I talked about each part of the exhibit to the students, I saw my own childhood in the quotes hanging on the walls.

It’s funny how June was Immigrant Heritage Month and on the very last day, it took a group of kids to make me realize how important that month should have been to me. If SuperKids were real superheroes, their superpower would be sparking a child-like spirit, curiosity, and wonder in adults. I certainly feel rescued. I may not have a degree in teaching, but I’m still so honored to be a small part of that process, and I look forward to a summer filled with SuperKids!

IMG_0993A blog post by Education Intern Eden Cho. To read more posts by interns click HERE.




Posted in jewish museum of maryland

SuperKids 2012!

Posted on July 25th, 2012 by

A blog post by Education Intern Ariella Esterson.

Every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., the doors to the Jewish Museum of Maryland burst open and in run the smiling faces of the SuperKids. SuperKids is a six-week summer reading enrichment program for boys and girls in grades 2nd,3rd, and 4th. The idea of SuperKids is to combine traditional summer camp activities with enriching learning experiences that helps to prepare students to return to school in the fall. They partner with many of Baltimore’s best-known cultural and historical organizations to ensure children receive a fun and educational summer. They integrate reading and writing into all aspect of camp so while the campers are having fun, they are also working to improve their literacy skills.

When the SuperKids arrive, they immediately can’t wait to get started with the day’s activities. The kids are split into 3 groups; one group to Lloyd Street Synagogue, one to Chosen Food and one to Voices on Lombard Street. One of the docents, Lois Fekete, is in charge of the Synagogue portion and teaches the SuperKids an intro to Judaism lesson and teaches them the Hebrew Alphabet. The group in Voices of Lombard Street set out on a scavenger hunt to learn about how immigrants lived when they arrived to Baltimore. They get to play and interact with the different objects inside the exhibit, such as the kitchen set and sowing machines.

So far, all of the SuperKids have loved these interactive sections and we’ve even had trouble having the kids leave the museum! Sample questions in the scavenger hunt include “Behind you is a bathtub. Read the text panel above it. Draw a picture of what was inside,” and “Find the photograph of people on a boat. These are immigrants coming to Baltimore. What is an immigrant?” Questions such as these ensure that the SuperKids read and write, which helps to prepare them for returning to school.

The third exhibit, Chosen Food, is the last stop for the SuperKids. In here, there are three different stations. The first station is a Hechser Hunt. A Hechser is a symbol placed on foods to show that these foods are considered Kosher. These symbols include the Star-K and the OU. The concept of kosher is introduced to the kids and then food packages and a chart of the different symbols are handed out and the kids need to locate the symbol on the boxes. They get really excited and love calling out when they find one with the name of the Hechsher they found.

Now that the kids know about Jewish foods, at the next station they learn about Jewish holidays and different Jewish foods eaten on those holidays. The kids are asked what their favorite holiday is, Jewish or Secular, and what’s their favorite food to eat on that holiday. We’ve gotten responses such as turkey on Thanksgiving and candy on Halloween. We then discuss different Jewish holidays and the food eaten on those, such as Matzah on Passover and Latkes on Hanukah. We then hand out a paper with a picture of a plate and have the kids draw their favorite holiday meal. We’ve gotten many delicious designs which have made us all very hungry.

The third and final station within Chosen Food is having all the kids sit down and reading them a book titled, “Matzo Ball Soup,” written by Jennifer Littman. (http:///www.amazon.com/Matzo-Ball-Soup-Bobbed-Brewed/dp/0965643107) The book tells the story of a grandmother preparing matzo ball soup for her family to eat on the Sabbath.

It ties together the entire Chosen Food exhibit for it talks about a Jewish holiday with a specific Jewish food that is eaten. Through the entire Chosen Food exhibit, the SuperKids  read, write, and draw which is very important to aid their development as they prepare to return to school.

SuperKids is a great program that combines learning with fun. It’s so nice to see their smiling faces every week and their excitement about the museum and I can’t wait until next time!

For more information on SuperKids check out http:///www.parksandpeople.org/learn/summer-programs/superkids-camp/

Posted in jewish museum of maryland