Monday, December 20, 2010

Culture Exchange

This blog is from Monica, one of our Museum Educators.

On Monday, December 6, 18 students from Trinity-Pawling School in Upstate New York visited the Project Mah Jongg exhibition. These students were part of a Mandarin class that had been studying about the game of mah jongg and its Chinese history. The teacher, Amber Rydberg, saw an ad for the exhibition this summer in Time Out New York and decided to take her students to the Museum to learn about the Jewish history of the game.

Although we’ve had adult groups from all over the country come to see the exhibit, this was the first group of students to visit. I was very excited to work with them. When I started the tour I asked them what they had learned about mah jongg. The students were eager to tell me all about the Chinese history of the game. They explained that they had been studying the game in the class and had learned how to play the game two different ways. The students were able to connect what they learned in class to what they saw in the exhibit. They were drawn to the sets, tiles, and the influence of the game in Jewish culture. After I finished the tour the students sat down to play. They played a Chinese version of the game and the teacher explained how the rules differ from the standard American rules.

Amber said, “It was a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast cultures and see how Chinese culture has influenced other cultures over the years, especially one in our own back yard. They really enjoyed seeing the different sets of mah jongg and actually getting to play it at the museum!”

All in all it was a learning experience for me as well as for these 18 young men.

Photo by Amber Rydberg of some of the students who came to visit the exhibition.

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