In January, Rowan Stephenson of Norwalk's Brookside Elementary School, and Alexandra Arispou and Andria Sawa of Ayios Andreas school in Cyprus exchanged drawings representing their respective cultures.
Stephenson's work depicted people of different ethnicities standing before an American flag, while Arispou's and Sawa's piece illustrated the friends on a beach in Cyprus.
Both drawings are among the 150 pieces by kids from 30 countries on view in the 16th International Children's Art Exhibit at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
On view through Wednesday, Aug. 1, the exhibit is the culmination of Artlink, an international arts exchange organized by Norwalk-based Creative Connections. It is designed to foster "understanding and appreciation" among children of different cultures, said Polly Loughran, program director.
"The buzz word now is global competency -- knowing enough about the world and having the skills to understand and react to it," she said.
As part of the show's theme -- "Putting Myself in the Picture" -- children were asked to create drawings and paintings answering the question: "What do I value most in my culture?" The catch: they had to put themselves somewhere in the work.
The children's responses range broadly, but follow common themes, such as cultural activities and everyday occurrences.
Among the students featured in the exhibition are Makenna Goeller, 9, of North Mianus School in Greenwich, who used pastels to draw her family around their Christmas tree and Rebecca Sato, 12, of Rippowam Middle School in Stamford. She used colored pencils to show her family toasting the Chinese New Year; and Melanie Espitia, 9, of Tokeneke Elementary School in Darien, painted herself running in a park with her mother and sister.
Works by overseas students include "My Childhood," by a 13-year-old girl from China who is pictured munching on a watermelon while sitting on a lotus leaf.
Said Loughran: "We want the kids to look at this art and say, `We're not as different as we thought.' "
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"Maslenitza," by a 15-year-old girl from Russia that depicts a national celebration at the end of winter; and "Water is Precious," a watercolor painting by a 13-year-old girl from Sri Lanka showing "a normal daily routine of our life."
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, 10 N. Water St. On view through Wednesday, Aug. 1. Mon-Sun 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 203-852-0700, www.maritimeaquarium.org.