Ancient cultures alive at fair - Catholic Courier

Ancient cultures alive at fair

PITTSFORD — Jennifer Segar, a sixth-grader at St. Louis School, acknowledged that she was tempted to wish for the Midas touch, the ability to turn everything she handled into gold.

“It would be kind of cool for a couple of things to turn to gold,” she said. “But you’d never be able to hug your family.”

However, she admitted that she might want to turn her little brother into gold temporarily, to “get in a little relaxing time.”

Jennifer then turned to her mother, Laraine, and said: “I’d turn you to gold, and take you shopping afterward.”

Her mother responded nonchalantly to her daughter’s alchemical desire.

“I think everyone wants to do that to their parents once in awhile,” Laraine said.

Fortunately for the Segar family, Jennifer learned from being the narrator in the sixth-grade play “Midas’ Golden Touch” that you should be careful what you wish for. The ancient tale about the king who lost even his daughter to his greed for gold was one of several highlights of “Traveling the Silk Road,” an ancient-cultures fair that took place in the parish’s Reddington Hall April 8.

The gymnasium was transformed into a time machine as sixth-graders, taught by Sandy Lund and Sue Cutaia, dressed in costumes from various eras and cultures. Among the cultures the students had studied were ancient Rome, Greece, Babylon, Phoenicia, Egypt, India, China and Japan. The children roamed about in their outfits or manned elaborately constructed booths that resembled boats, pyramids, tents and other ancient structures that were representative of the different cultures. The booths featured cultural artifacts, including various foods, and information on the various ancient peoples.

The fair ended with a colorful outdoor Chinese “Lion Dance” performed by members of the Rochester Shaolin Training Academy, a martial-arts school. Several academy members played percussive instruments, or then took turns wearing a huge, two-person lion costume. The “lion” danced about the school parking lot, delighting the children, who responded with screams as it spewed lettuce at them.

Lund and Michele Riedl, a fifth-grade teacher, both noted that the fair was a valuable hands-on social-studies project that enabled the students to use their skills in language arts, computers, art and math. Lund added that the children’s parents helped out by working on the culture booths with their kids, and assisting them in making or renting the children’s costumes.

It was clear from the students’ comments that they learned a lot from participating in the fair. Alex Conezio noted that ancient sailors wore long pants so they wouldn’t get sunburned. John Kelly said that Phoenicia made the first dyes, which Ashley Infantino liked as well. Maggie Gelke said she enjoyed dyeing handkerchiefs purple.

“Phoenicia and Babylon were cool because they had a lot of cave paintings,” said Lee Evans.

Some students, such as Patrick Conlon, added that they were fond of Greek architecture, which influenced the design of public buildings in Rome and in the modern world as well.

Quinn Cassidy said he enjoyed learning about Confucianism in ancient China, and especially liked learning about Chinese writing.

“It looks really hard to do,” he said.

At a booth showcasing replicas of ancient Egyptian artifacts, Liz Roxstrom and Julia Powers pointed out a replica of the Rosetta Stone, the famed tablet of black basalt that bore parallel inscriptions of ancient Greek and Egyptian writings.

“People made up stories in hieroglyphics,” Liz explained.

She added that sambusa was a favorite dish at Egyptian weddings.

“The food is really good,” she said of Egyptian cuisine.

Meanwhile, Angela Smith said she was intrigued by the ancient Egyptians, who entombed the bodies of their kings in the pyramids. When asked why they just didn’t bury them in the ground, her classmate Sidonie Cypher thought about the question for a moment and replied: “Because it probably was not as dirty.”

“We must preserve the earth,” Angela added with a chuckle.

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