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April 13, 2018 06:10 PM

Parent University Hosts Cultural Mythbusters

A Parent University event at Hawthorne Elementary in Sioux Falls is bringing together local residents from a variety of backgrounds. The goal is to educate parents and community members about different cultures in an effort to boost student achievement. 

Representatives from eight countries are educating Friday's guests about their homelands. 

"They are like living librarians, so you can ask any questions that you want to them and they will answer to the best of their abilities," D'Souza said. 

Poornima D'Souza is a parent educator for the Sioux Falls School District. She says busting cultural myths can help people from different backgrounds get along better and that can lead to more successful students. 

"Many of the African and Asian cultures, they look down and do not give eye contact when you talk to another person. That is perceived here as being rude," D'Souza said. 

But it's actually a sign of respect. 

Parent University is being hosted here at Hawthorne Elementary. It's one of the most diverse schools in Sioux Falls with more than 20 countries represented within these walls. 

"I think it's phenomenal. I think this needs to happen more, way more, every single day because it helps everyone build bridges," Christy Nicolaisen said. 

Christy Nicolaisen from the Multi-Cultural Center came to Friday's event to meet new people and see how they're adjusting to life in the United States. 

"This is intimate and so you can ask those questions that if you're walking down the street or in the store, you're like, I really want to know but people feel like I can't, I can't, I don't want to do that. So I think this is really cool," Nicolaisen said. 

With people from more than 100 countries living in Sioux Falls, connecting citizens is important. 

"Our ultimate goal is integration into the American society," D'Souza said. 

Parent University helps parents of immigrant students learn about American culture. Members of the group regularly share stories and traditions from their home countries. Next week, the group is publishing a recipe book with entries from around the world.

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