MAGNOLIA, NJ (CBS) – A church in Camden County is dedicated to educating the youngest in the ward about cultures.
On a sunny summer morning, Cheryl Chinn is reading a traditional Chinese story about a boy with a very long name.
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“Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo is at the bottom of the well,” said Chinn.
And it keeps children busy with their own names.
This is Diversity Story Time, a project by the Soul Cafe Church in Magnolia.
The idea came from Lizette Meléndez.
“One of the beauties of America is that we are diverse, and why not celebrate? And why not celebrate in a very simple way what beautiful children’s stories are, ”said Meléndez.
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Meléndez made sure that different storytellers came every week to read to the children. Chinn, who is Chinese-American, said learning other cultures was invaluable for children, including their own.
“Why are you doing this? Why do they speak another language? Why are we doing this? “Said Chin.
The Soul Cafe Prayer Garden serves as an outdoor classroom and communal space.
“It’s so nice to see people in the church come here and find their center, find God here in a small prayer garden,” said Chinn.
The diversity story time is over for summer, but the bonds it created live on.
Soul Cafe continues to run other ministries, including a pantry and free library.
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“If anything, the pandemic taught me that community is important not only during the pandemic, but let’s keep doing it,” Meléndez said.