The Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center recently collaborated with Central Middle School in Columbus, Indiana to bring the school’s entire seventh grade class to the Indiana University, Bloomington campus for a morning of Mongol Invasion-themed immersive educational experience that allowed students and faculty to explore important elements of Central Eurasian culture and history. The students are designing games based on the history of the Mongol conquests and the geography of the Eurasian landscapes. When asked by one of the teachers whether we could do anything to help the students with their task, the Center’s staff gladly worked with the teacher to design an experience to meet the students’ learning needs.
With the help of a fantastic team of volunteers from the Department of Central Eurasian Studies, the Center was able to engage and inspire 120 seventh-graders with activities including fortune telling and other games played with Mongolian shagai (sheep knucklebones), hands-on interaction with clothing and other items from the region, including the Center’s model ger (yurt or mobile felt dwelling), a “Geography of the Mongol Invasion” map challenge, and a game design brainstorming session. In between Mongol Invasion-themed activities, our visitors were treated to a small taste of life at IU on a mini campus tour.
This action-packed morning was a great success, enjoyed by students and teachers alike. Students left with a greater understanding of Central Eurasian history and culture, along with some new ideas to incorporate in their game design projects. An accompanying teacher noted, “The program did a fantastic job engaging and educating our seventh graders,” while another declared that this had been her “favorite field trip.” Those interested should keep an eye out for the best of the games, which will be set up at the public library in Columbus so that everyone can try their hand at being a Mongol invader – or being invaded!
As a Title VI-funded comprehensive National Resource Center, one of the Center’s key aims is to promote understanding of the Inner Asian and Uralic region. Encompassing teacher training workshops, online interactive video conferencing presentations, in-person classroom visits, and custom-designed education experiences, the Center’s portfolio of K-12 outreach activities builds intercultural competency by showcasing the peoples, languages, and cultures of an often-overlooked world region. The Center works closely with the IU School of Education Center for P-16 Research & Collaboration and directly with teachers across the United States to develop high quality educational programming and resources, many of which are available online and free to use. The Center is always looking for new partners and new opportunities for collaboration, so please do not hesitate to contact the Center’s staff with an idea.