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Moving Cultural Display

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

At first glance, the gym at Weston Elementary looks like a gym decorated for a party.

Displays showing intricate silk scarves and bamboo flutes decorate tables and walls. What look like colorful decorations handmade by children, hang from the ceiling above the entrance.

In stark contrast to the skilled art on display, are photographs of fields littered with grenades from a war long since passed. Grenades which continue to kill innocent people who happen upon them.

Framed pictures showing emaciated men and women working to feed painfully thin children are found throughout the exhibits.

Models of machines and other technology commonly used in mountain communities show the effort that goes into obtaining water and preparing food.

One framed picture shows a young boy with a big smile on his face, flying a kite made from a discarded plastic shopping bag. He flies it with dirty string wrapped around a small glass bottle.

In Laos, many children collect string, tying whatever they find end to end, so they have enough to fly their kites. After seeing the photograph, the observer realizes that the "decorations" above the entrance, made from old Walmart and Target plastic bags are actually examples of toys children in Laos and Thailand treasure.

The exhibit is a striking look at a society most Americans would think is from another time, but it's not. It's a look into the poverty that millions of men and women who are lucky to live to age 50, exist in every day.

It will stay at Weston Elementary until the end of March. It will then move to John Marshall School in Wausau for the first two weeks of April.


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