During a visit from Ugandan students, school children at the Developing Virtue Secondary School in Talmage, California recently discovered the uninhibited joy that happens while dancing.
The central African nation of Uganda sits between Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the newly-created South Sudan. The country has had a treacherous past, having dealt with wars, poverty and disease for decades.
And all too often, issues that seem far removed from life in the U.S. can go unrecognized by people who may be in a position to help. This is precisely why the Developing Virtue Secondary School chose to spend time on African studies, according to The Ukiah Daily Journal. The private Buddhist school in Talmage, California, places a heavy emphasis on nurturing the personal, social and moral character of its students.
In particular, it hopes to provide its students a broad view of the world and international issues. So, when students expressed interest in taking action after learning of the plight of many Africans, the school did not hesitate. Administrators quickly connected with the Children of Uganda, an organization that raises money and awareness through an engaging cultural exchange program.
The Children of Uganda visits places around the world to share the dance and song of its homeland. All of the children in the cultural exchange organization come from Uganda, making their mission a very personal one.
The students of Developing Virtue corresponded with the group for four years and were eventually able to bring them to California.
But the students of Developing Virtue wanted to share their own culture as well. So they took it upon themselves to put together their own performance showcasing traditional Buddhist cultures. Ranging from Malaysian drumming to Chinese dancing, the students welcomed their visitors in kind.
And the Children of Uganda were certainly moved. Pamela Brannon, the executive director of the cultural exchange organization, told the Journal her group had "never had the kind of deep cultural exchange provided by the students at Developing Virtue School."
Aside from their performances, the Children of Uganda functions largely through sponsorships. But the possibilities for the kind of sharing that the students of Developing Virtue experienced are not limited to sponsorships or brief encounters. Many cultural exchange organizations offer the opportunity to become directly involved in solving ongoing issues in communities around the world.