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March 25, 2013

4-H helps members get global perspective

By Cheryl Petersen
The Daily Star

---- — How do you travel to Egypt, Germany and Cost Rica without an airplane, boat or bus? If you’re a local 4-H member, all you need is your imagination. 

On Friday night, 4-H members from seven Delaware County clubs, plus two independent members, provided a conceptual trip around the world at Camp Shankitunk in Delhi. 

“This is the 23rd year that Cornell Cooperative Extension has hosted the International Night,” 4-H community educator Emily Roach said. “The kids and clubs each select the country they want to present and prepare a presentation for the two-hour event.”

In the main building at Camp Shankitunk, visitors strolled from presentation to presentation and read about the countries while sampling ethnic cuisine, also prepared by the 4-H members. 

“The Dominican Republic mostly has tropical weather all year round,” independent 4-H member Alyssa Stanton said. She had painted a depiction of the country’s flag for her display. “Mangos, coconuts and plantains are a few of the crops grown on the island that has seven countries,” she said. 

Alyssa, 10, had prepared rice and beans, a popular food in the country, along with Mangu, “mashed plantains, commonly eaten for breakfast,” to serve to those in attendance. 

“I chose Dominican Republic because my dad’s family is from there,” explained Alyssa, a 4-H member for three years. Her exhibit included information on the Carnaval de La Vega, a monthlong celebration climaxing Feb. 27, Dominican Independence Day. 

“I also added information on the fact Dominican Republic produces great baseball players,” added Alyssa, who was dressed in a colorful turquoise dress, similar to what is worn in Dominican Republic.

The International Evening included a visual trip to Ireland, Japan, Scotland and Turkmenistan. Walton Central School student and 4-H member Mikaelan Cucciarre-Stuligross also gave a half-hour Powerpoint presentation on South Africa. 

“My grandma and grandpa lived in South Africa,” Mikaelan said. “Grandma was going to give the presentation but wasn’t feeling well, so I was asked to do it.” 

With a confident speaker’s aplomb, Mikaelan described village life in South Africa — thatched roofs on round huts, outdoor shopping markets, a woman outside a school cooking lunch over a fire, and clothing styles. 

“People travel mostly by foot,” she explained. “Africa has 11 national languages, and one is Hosah, an interesting language, because it has lots of clicks, made by clicking your tongue.”

“The Cornell Extension Office makes it easy to be in 4-H,” said Lynn Dennis, mother of Abigail Dennis. “We signed up to receive newsletters through email and the office also sends reminders.” 

Abigail Dennis has been a member for two years and did a presentation on Turkmenistan. She also signs up to enter photography and drawings in the Delaware County Fair.

For another area family, the event gave them a chance to learn more about the 4-H organization. 

The Constables, of Sidney Center, didn’t know a lot about 4-H when they started thinking about signing up their two sons. 

“We heard about 4-H,” Clay Constable said. “But my wife and I weren’t in 4-H when we were kids.” 

When Clay and his wife, Sonnet, decided to learn more about 4-H, Sonnet called the Delaware County Cornell Extension Office based in Hamden. Emily Roach answered the phone. 

“She pointed us in the right direction and we found a club to join, Crafty Kids, in Walton,” Sonnet Constable said. “Our intent was for our 7-year-old, Lincoln, to take chickens to the fair, but we discovered 4-H offers many other activities.” 

The family was attending the International Evening for the first time. Besides the food and presentations, the night presented another opportunity for their family. 

“Lincoln asked to go to 4-H camp this summer, so we signed him up,” Sonnet Constable said. “This is great.”