Magic makes cultural differences disappear

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What do you get when you combine 19 Japanese exchange students who barely speak English, their teenage hosts who know little more than a few card tricks, and a pair of magicians whose acts range from vanishing illusions to mind reading?

A magic recital that strips away cultural boundaries, leaving little more than laughter, imagination and memories that will follow the Asian visitors as they make their way for the rest of the school year across the United States.

The students spent three weeks this summer in Colorado, one of those at the Theatre of Dreams in Castle Rock for a multilingual magic camp.

The last day of camp featured a magic recital, where a few of the students got the chance to share some of what they learned. The recital came days before they prepared to part ways to spend the school year in different parts of the United States, said Vicki Smith, area representative for the Center for Cultural Interchange.

The center brought the group from China for a year of study in the U.S. and selected the Castle Rock theatre as one of several field trips before the start of school. A few of the students would be staying in Castle Rock for the year, while most planned to go out of state, Smith said.

The magic camp was selected because of its potential to teach the students the value of public speaking, she said. Among the acts on recital day was a teleportation demonstration, a mind-reading act and a magical straw trick.

Kobayashi Hibiki was enjoying his first visit to the United States and was looking forward to spending the school year in New York City.

“It was a great camp,” Hibiki said. “The card tricks were my favorite.”

The Givans teach the camps each year, to children and adults. Joe Givan has been studying magic since he was in elementary school.

“People love learning magic,” he said. “I just get the joy of seeing people smile.”