“Sama Sama” summer camp offers creative ways to teach Filipino culture
OAKLAND, CA — This was the 3rd annual community building fundraiser called Sayawan.
It was a free event, which featured a variety of music and dance and raised $7,000 for the Sama Sama Cooperative — a cooperative-led summer day camp, centering on Filipino American cultural and ecological heritage with Tagalog immersion.
“Many parents are second and third generation Filipinos, and unfortunately, many of us were not passed on the gift of language,” said Gala King, Sama Sama founding parent. “So it’s really important for us to create a space where our youth are exposed to Filipino language, in this case Tagalog, as well as our history and our culture — to help ground their own resiliency in being Filipino here in this country.”
Children ages 5-to-11 experience many different interactive opportunities to learn about their Filipino culture, like making Filipino food.
“We break down the techniques. We use whole entire ingredients, and we always begin in what we call our Bilal circle — gathering together as a group, exploring the ingredients, the ecology of them, and where they came from,” said Aileen Suzara, cultural foods educator. “And actually, one of the other rich components of our culinary education has been getting to work with local farmers and growers that really take care of the seeds and know where they come from.”
Parents also said they get a lot out of the summer camp, just as much as their kids.
“It’s an experience for the parents to see their kids become more sensitized to their culture,” said Paul Ambrosio. “For the kids, it gives them the opportunity to grow with their peers and learn of their culture, and honestly there are limited opportunities to do that in the United States.”
The Sama Sama program, while still fairly new, has already been noticed by other organizations for their unique approach to cultural appreciation.
“We’ve been contacted by a lot of other communities that are recognizing the uniqueness and our asking for us to share our model, share our curriculum, which we are happy to do. We think it’s something we would love to see in all Filipino-American communities.”
This year’s camp will be held at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, and will run for four weeks, from June 26 through July 21.
For more information about the camp you can visit samasamacooperative.org.