For more than an hour at the Toledo Museum of Art, teenagers from Toledo found something in common with students from China, Japan, and Pakistan: amazement at the glass-blowing process.
About 70 students watched Friday as Leonard Marty, a staff member at the museum's Glass Pavilion, demonstrated the basics of making glass to the assembled students.
"I have to keep the glass over 1,000 degrees, otherwise it will cool down and shatter," he explained, blasting a molten sphere of glass with a flame from a torch.
Devante Grace, 17, a senior at Rogers High School, helped Mr. Marty drip the molten glass onto a translucent sphere.
Students from China and Pakistan followed him in turn to help complete the project.
"All the heat was coming in my face," laughed 14-year-old Maaz Nabee of Pakistan after the demonstration.
The 30 international students, ages 13 to 17, came from the International Youth Academy, a two-week program run and funded by Toledo Sister Cities International that reinforces English skills and teaches the basics of American culture. The students stay with local host families and attend class at the University of Toledo.
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For most of the students, it was the first visit to the United States. "It helps introduce the language and the culture for students who might want to study here," said Sherris Anne Schwind, the students' English and American culture instructor. Along the way, they get some up-close exposure to American life, Toledo style.
"It was something completely new for me, seeing for the first time how glass was made," said Saifullah Soomro, 16, of Pakistan.
In addition to the Glass Pavilion, the students have experienced the Toledo Zoo, the Wood County Fair, and a few other local attractions.
The 30 Toledo students at the museum are participating in the Summer Youth Engagement Program, sponsored by the city of Toledo. Open to ages 13 to 17, the free six-week program focuses on career exploration, civic education, community service, and, for this week, building connections with global youth.
The local students first met the international students Monday, at the University of Toledo's International House.
"They were as excited as I've seen them," recalled Tracee Ellis, the director of the Summer Youth Engagement Program. The students had a chance to talk about family life, music, food, and other things teenagers have in common.
"They taught me some Chinese and Japanese," said Ke- shaun Ellis, 15, a 10th grader at Scott High School.
The Toledo students also made cards for the international students, giving them something tangible to remember their brief cultural exchange.
Nine other Toledo students came to the museum Friday from the Safe Communities Project, an eight-week summer program run by the Urban Minorities Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program of Lucas County.
Contact Casey Sumner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6084.