Citizens of the World Festival

By Samantha Celmer
On April 8th, the area studies centers, as well as the College of Education, Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange, and Illinois International Programming, brought Oakwood Junior High School to campus to partake in the inaugural Citizens of the World Festival. Part of International Week on campus, the Citizens of the World Festival aimed to expose a young audience to world cultures and to spark their interest in pursuing an international education. The centers created six rooms, each represented a different world region, for the junior high students to rotate through. REEEC organized its own room, the Russia and East European Room.
The Russia and East European Room highlighted four countries from the region: Russia, Poland, Armenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. To begin their session in the room, the junior high students started by hearing a story from a survivor of the Bosnian War, Medina Spiodic. Medina showed pictures of her hometown and family, while relaying the experience her family endured during the early 90s. After Medina’s story, the students were able to visit the other countries, which each had its own special activity. The Poland area had a heritage speaker of Polish who designed language based games so that the students were able to experience the Polish alphabet and try some tongue twisters. REEEC’s Associate Director, Maureen Marshall, brought her archaeological expertise to the Armenia area and showed the students bones and artifacts from her own excavations in the region. The graduate assistants who ran the Russia area shared their knowledge of the Cold War Arms race and utilized an interactive online website in which the user can type in a location and simulate what would happen if atomic bombs of varying size were dropped on said location. Follow this link for the interactive map:
After the successful event, REEEC donated several books to the Oakwood Junior High School Library that will continue to expose the students to the region’s unique culture and history. REEEC looks forward to creating new activities for next year’s Citizens of the World Festival. 

Samantha Celmer is the Outreach and Programming Coordinator for REEEC. She is currently finishing her thesis for the MA program which focuses on representations of Russia in children’s media in the 90’s and the problem of international relations in childhood development.

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