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Grantee Story: “Cultural Awareness through Cooking: Understanding Ethnocentricity”

It’s 11 a.m. on a Tuesday and Sonia Diaz is standing over a hot oven at Tu Casa restaurant. An array of tortillas, cheeses, and meats lay before her, ready to become the ingredients in a stack of delicious papusas. As she delicately and intently prepares the feast, Ms. Linda, the restaurant’s owner, explains to a group the finer points of Salvadoran familial relationships. Later, as Sonia and her classmates gather around a table and nosh on the fruits of their labor, they’ll discuss the cultural similarities and differences between the United States and El Salvador.

It’s just another day in Christopher Eldridge’s Introduction to Sociology class.

A social studies teacher at Scarborough High School in Scarborough, Maine, Eldridge used a $5,000 Student Achievement Grant from the NEA Foundation to introduce “Cultural Awareness through Cooking,” a program that framed studies of different nations through visits to restaurants. Occurring throughout the spring of 2012, the project encouraged Eldridge’s 50 juniors and seniors to reduce personal ethnocentrism and foster cultural awareness and respect for diversity.

Continue reading the full story on our Featured Grantees page.

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