PRACTICAL APPLICATION CASE – Chapter 5
Boba Rebear and Salty Green Paper
The day Ying Ying started preschool he was only 3 and very scared. He didn’t know a single word of English. He needed open-heart surgery in an English-speaking hospital, and his doctors urgently needed him to attend preschool to learn some English before the surgery. But poor Ying Ying didn’t like the doctors, the hospital, or the preschool, so he cried—oh, how he howled, endlessly it seemed.
The teachers tried patiently to interest him in the soft white bunny in the science center, the wonderful block center, even the food preparation center, but he just sobbed inconsolably. He didn’t want to be hugged. He didn’t want to be touched. He just cried.
After several days, at circle time, it was Malika’s turn to lead the group in a chant. Well, Malika was an amazing child, a beautiful, confident African-American child who loved the spotlight. Of course, she picked her cultural folk favorite, a jazzed-up rhyming version of “The Three Bears.” Malika-style, she sashayed right up to the front of the circle and led her chant with uninhibited charm, energy, and talent (not to mention pizzazz):
Once upon a time in a little log cabin
Lived the three bears—CHA, CHA, CHA.
One was the papa, one was the mama
And one was the wee bear—CHA, CHA, CHA.
One day they went a walkin’ in the cool woods a talkin’
And along came a girl, a girl with long hair.
Her name was Goldilocks and upon the door she knocked,
But no one was there; no, no one was there.
So she walked right in and she had herself a chair,
‘Cause she didn’t care, the girl with long hair.
Then home, home, home came the three bears.
Someone’s been sitting in my chair, said the papa bear.
Someone’s been sitting in my chair, said the mama bear.
Hey Boba Rebear, said the little wee bear,
Someone has broken my chair—CRASH!
Then Goldilocks she woke up, she broke up the party,
And she beat it out of there; she beat it out of there,
And that is the story of the three little bears
Boba Re, Boba Re, Boba Ra Ra Ra!
Of course the class responded gleefully, heart and soul, and the classroom fairly rocked with this bebop chant. Ying Ying’s sobs were completely drowned out by the ruckus. When the chant ended, it dawned on everyone that Ying Ying wasn’t crying anymore. He was standing there looking amazed and actually grinning. Malikayelled out, “Hey, Ying Ying likes it. He stopped crying. Let’s do it again.”
Apparently, Ying Ying’s Chinese cultural background had in no way, shape, or form prepared him for a roomful of children cheerfully boogieing down to a jazzy version of the three bears. Malika lead the class in the rhyme again. This time Ying Ying shook with laughter. He laughed till he cried. The children enthusiastically “Boba Reed” and “Boba Rood” with every jazzy bone in their bodies over and over. Well, that is when Ying Ying fell in love with Malika.
Malika took Ying Ying under her wing and he became her constant shadow. Soon he had mastered her cocky walk and learned to speak English, making sure to pronounce his words with an African-American edge just like Malika. He was her “BFF” buddy.
One day when Ying Ying’s mother, Mrs. Sung, came to pick him up from school, he was at Malika’s side. Mrs. Sung opened her purse and gave Ying Ying a small rectangle of crinkly green tissue. Ying Ying instantly and eagerly popped it into his mouth.
Malika shrieked, “Teacher! Teacher! Ying Ying’s mama fed him green paper!” The teacher visited with Mrs. Sung and then said, “Malika, in Ying Ying’s country this is a great treat for children. It is made of seaweed and it tastes salty. Would you like to taste?”
Nothing in Malika’s cultural background prepared her for eating crinkly green paper. The teacher and Mrs. Sung talked some more with Ying Ying and Malika and decided to wrap some laver (dried, edible seaweed) for Malika to take home to show her parents.
At home that evening, Malika’s parents loved the idea of her trying the laver. They even tasted it too. Malika loved the taste of the laver so much that she thought Mrs. Sung should bring more of it one day for all the children at preschool to have a taste of “green paper.”
Malika and Ying Ying came from totally different cultural backgrounds, but with the help of supportive teachers and parents, they learned to appreciate, respect, and value each other’s cultural background.
CASE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. What would have happened if the teacher had insisted that the children calm down, sit with their legs “criss-cross applesauce,” and sing “nicely” with an “inside” voice?
2. What would have happened if Malika had been sent away from the circle for yelling out at circle time?
3. What would have happened if Malika had called Ying Ying a baby and told him to leave her alone and stop following her around all the time?
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