Lotus online study guides allow public to connect with various world cultures


Due to COVID-19, The Lotus Education and Arts Foundation had to cancel its annual Lotus Blossoms program. In response, the organization released cultural study guides online for educating K-12 students about different music from around the world. Courtesy Photo

The Lotus Education and Arts Foundation released online cultural study guides for educating K-12 students about different music from around the world.

Due to COVID-19, the organization had to cancel its annual Lotus Blossoms program, which brings musicians from around the world to share their cultures with students in central southern Indiana. The online guides released each year accompany performances from each artist on Lotus's website. Guides from 2018 through 2020 are available.

Lotus executive director Tamara Loewenthal said the goal of the Lotus Blossoms program is to expose students of a broad variety of cultures. The study guides allow for deeper exploration of a particular artist's culture.

“We build exposures for kids if they don’t naturally have them,” she said. 

Featured musicians in the 2020 study guides include Mexican-American mariachi band Cielito Lindo, multi-instrumentalists The Corn Potato String Band from the United States, artist and spiritual healer Masankho Banda from Malawi, Haitian-Canadian performer Vox Sambou, Native American performer Violet Duncan from the U.S. and Buddhist singer Yungchen Lhamo from Tibet.

The 2019 guide includes the Dominican music group based in the U.S. called the DREAM Bachata Academy, and the 2018 guide features female group Kardemimmit from Finland and folk music duo Giri and Uma Peters from the U.S.

Loewenthal said the guides are normally distributed to teachers for use in schools.

"They add a lot to how we engage students," Loewenthal said. "They help make their experience richer."

A playlist of music by each artist is available on the Lotus YouTube channel.

Two artists featured in the study guides are offering Lotus Live-Stream Concert performances on Lotus's Facebook and YouTube pages. 

Aaron Jonah Lewis of The Corn Potato String Band is playing at 8 p.m. Saturday live on the Lotus Facebook and YouTube pages. Kardemimmit is playing at noon Sunday. 

Kathleen Clark-Perez, communications and marketing director for Lotus, said the organization decided to release the guides online so that parents can teach their children about different cultures at home in lieu of live performances.

“We are in a time when parents must act as teachers for their children,” Clark-Perez said. “The study guides allow for a more in-depth understanding of the cultures.”

Katie Bethel, graduate assistant at Lotus, said the guides are friendly for all ages. These study guides can serve as an educational resource or just a chance to explore world cultures, Bethel said.

“They are aimed at engaging audiences in a more one-on-one way,” Bethel said. 

Lotus Blossoms, in addition to catering to K-12 students, is an outreach program that provides cultural entertainment for adults. The Lotus mission is to create opportunities to experience, celebrate and explore the diversity of the world’s cultures through music and the arts, according to their website.

Lotus serves surrounding communities of Monroe County and areas of Columbus and Indianapolis. 

The guides are available on the Lotus website for anyone to read.

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