Half A Century of World-Wide Exchange: Penn Museum's International Classroom

International Classroom is an innovative and creative program of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology's Education Department. Our mission is to engage students while promoting intercultural understanding between residents of the Delaware Valley area and people from around the world.

Mike Unger, Penn Current -- "Promoting intercultural understanding between residents of the Delaware Valley and people from around the world has been a main goal of International Classroom since it was born in 1961 at a junior high school in suburban Philadelphia as the Ogontz Plan for Mutual International Education.

"Its founders, Evelyn and Norman Palmer, believed the international students attending the many colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area were an untapped wealth of knowledge about the cultures of their home countries. And for half a century, the program has promoted cross-cultural connections among schoolchildren, families and community groups.

"Since 1987, the program has been a vital part of the Penn Museum’s educational offerings.

"Alimatou Minkeu, a native Cameroonian who is one of International Classroom’s 160 speakers, says he believes the program is successful because 'it decreases the fear of foreigners that comes from the unknown.'

“'Cameroon,' she says, 'may be thousands of miles away; they speak a different language there, they may dress differently, but some daily activities and emotions are actually very similar. … The program is effective because it allows students to realize how the cultures are not too different from each other.'

International Classroom boasts a roster of speakers from 60 countries. Most are students at Penn and other Philadelphia-area universities, but many are college graduates who remained involved after entering the professional world."

For more on the presentations and education offered by International Classroom, please read the entirety of Mike Unger's Penn Current article here.

International Classroom program offerings may include free admission to special exhibitions, guided tours, speaker presentations, and more. For additional information, please call the program's manager of outreach, Prema Deshmukh: (215) 898 - 4065.

Photo credit: Prema Deshmukh