A virtual (and real) parade of nations made its way across the Cherry Chase campus the evening of Friday, May 18, 2012. Led by co-chairs, Puja Sampat and Kathy Mortensen, the school grounds were transformed into a riot of colorful tents where students, parents and extended family members celebrated the cultural diversity of Cherry Chase’s community. The evening culminated with a spontaneous parade of nations that got everyone dancing – grandparents, kids, parents… even little babies in costume!
An annual event at Cherry Chase, International Night took a giant leap forward in 2012 – moving outside and filling much of the school grounds. This allowed for a lot more creativity of expression and opened the door for expanded demonstrations of martial arts (Taekwondo) and traditional instruments (the Kayagum, from Korea) as well as number of music performances and dances from around the world (Israel, Mexico, Columbia and China). It offered participants the opportunity to take a virtual trip to nations such as Australia, Argentina, Columbia, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Scotland, Sweden and the USA.
Attendees were greeted at a welcome station, where children received a ‘passport’ that featured a scavenger hunt of fun facts to look for at each nation’s booth. Country ambassadors organized vibrantly beautiful displays reflecting their cultural heritage, offering colorful decorations, informative posters, food samplings, music, crafts, games and activities.
Families enjoyed a rainbow of delicious food offerings including French crepes and cheeses, Israeli falafel, Japanese sushi, homemade potstickers from China and Korea, Danish ebelskiver, Indian samosas, Mexican flautas, Irish shepherd’s pie, German cakes, Columbian guava pastries, Argentine dulce de leche, and a delicious array of treats from the U.S. such as clam chowder and red beans and rice. Yum!
The booths themselves offered unique opportunities for children (and adults) to learn about cultures in a fun, hands-on fashion. For example, children learned to play the lotteria game from Mexico, build Legos from Scandinavia, play traditional Scottish, Chinese, Irish and Korean games, create a puppet show from Holland, learn Japanese origami, get Indian henna tattoos, experience flag face painting, try on traditional attire, and take fun photos at creative photo booths.
Cherry Chase parent and volunteer, Daphne Rountree, summed it up nicely, “It was a magical event. It’s so great to simultaneously feel pride of heritage, and pride in the Cherry Chase community. It is by far my favorite event at the school”.
Smiling, happy faces joyfully celebrating as one multi-cultural, multi-generational community made a lasting impression on organizers Kathy Mortensen and Puja Sampat.
Article by Puja Sampat and Kathy Besser. Photos by Chris Driggett.