Gentex Employees Share Their Culture at After-School Program Featured Image

Gentex Employees Share Their Culture at After-School Program

Several Gentex team members have led cultural appreciation classes through Empowering Youth Global Connections (EYGC) at the Boys and Girls Club of Holland.

The classes encourage people to share their experiences and background with students, giving them an idea of the different cultures that exist outside of their immediate community, and are offered in several locations throughout Zeeland, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Bridge after school program, and Lakewood and Lakeshore elementary schools. 

“Children are very open to new things,” said Sue Franz, VP of Chemnical Technologies, who presented on Chinese culture. “The more we expose different cultures to children, the more accepting they are of people from different diverse backgrounds. It builds the foundation for them later in life to work with people of different backgrounds.”

RC Luten, Chemistry Team Manager, came to the U.S. from Thailand in 2002, and has given students an introduction to Thai culture through the courses. For RC, the experience at the classes parallels her experiences as a newcomer in the United States and highlights how important it is to be open to people from other cultures.

“I had opportunities to make friends from many countries when I attended ESL classes in Novi,” she said. "The experience to share stories about Thailand with these kids was great. They were curious, asking a lot of questions, and they tried some Thai snacks I brought as well.”

Pujitha Mannaru, Gentex Research Scientist in Machine Learning and AI, presented on Indian culture. She highlighted Indian greetings, geography, art, cuisine, and holidays during her presentation last fall. Students got to paint diyas, clay lamps lit during Diwali in India. For her, the program is important and a worthwhile time investment.

“I would encourage people across Gentex to volunteer with EYGC to share their cultural experience and provide these young people with multicultural exposure,” she said. “It’s important to encourage young learners to approach unfamiliarity with curiosity and consider new ideas with a spirit of tolerance.”

The Bridge after school program as well as the Boys and Girls Club are both Gentex Community Share Partners.

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