Continuing Education

A Cultural Exploration of Seattle

Au Pairs seeking greater learning opportunities during their stay in Seattle now have a golden learning adventure before them. Continuing Education’s new course A Cultural Exploration of Seattle is designed specifically to lead Au Pairs on a guided tour through local landmarks and explore their significance to history and the civil rights movement.Image

Conceived by Kate Koester, Local Childcare Coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair, the class was inspired by the accomplishments of a quartet of local activists who helped shape the community we see today.  “I (am) using Seattle's Gang of Four as a model - Bob Santos, Roberto Maestas, Bernie Whitebear and Larry Gossett, the four Seattle activists and friends representing Latino, African American, Asian, and First Nations backgrounds. I realized that following them could lead to an exploration of various parts of the Seattle area and add an educational/cultural component as well.”

Starting August 9th and running until August 18th, A Cultural Exploration of Seattle is an educational excursion encompassing visits to every corner of Seattle. Highlights include visits to the Discovery Park to tour the Day Break Star Center, a trek to the International District and the Wing Luke Museum, a ferry ride to the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, an exploration of Beacon Hill and the El Centro de la Raza, the NW African American Museum, Casa Latina and the Nordic Heritage Museum.  

A Cultural Exploration of Seattle is much more than a guided tour, but a hands-on course in which students will explore and discuss the places they visit and people they meet.“Students will ask how and why they or their ancestors came to ImageSeattle,” she says. “If they came from a different country, what country did they come from? If they came from a different part of the US, which part? What neighborhood in Seattle did they or their ancestors first settle in and why? What do they think are the best and the worst aspects of living in Seattle?”

Instructor Kevin O’Connor leads A Cultural Exploration of Seattle. He is someone experienced not only in working with international students, but well versed in Seattle history and culture. “I have worked with non-profits that support the communities we’ll be visiting,” he says. “The rich, historical and vibrant life of the Asian, African American, Latino and Native cultures in and around Seattle makes this course exciting to plan and teach.”

Residing in the Emerald City for several decades, O’Connor has earned himself the title of Seattle Native. “I moved to Seattle to attend UW and go to the graduate school in 1985 and NEVER left,” he says. “My adult life has been in Seattle, where I live and work and play.  I was a history and English major and worked for immigrant and refugee community based organizations.  I have also taught ABE and ESL courses for over 15 years in and around ImageSeattle.  I am familiar with all the locations, have visited them and leaders from these communities.  I will most surely gain an even greater appreciation for them with new connections forged with the NSC students taking this course.”

It is entirely possible O’Connor is looking forward to this class more than his students. “I cannot wait to reacquaint myself with the community stories that have shaped Seattle,” he says.  “And sharing these with NSC students who might have never known about these communities and their important contribution to making Seattle, Seattle.” He says he hopes students will be comfortable bringing their own unique stories from their home countries so all can reflect and engage with what is unique in Seattle. “Understanding like this builds awareness and strong bridges from which we can connect in the future.”

Learn more about A Cultural Exploration of Seattle.

Photo credit #1: Michael Coppola_cc_2.0
Photo credit #2: InterExchange USA_cc_2.0
Photo credit #3: Ray Hutchinson_cc_2.0