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World comes to elementary students for multicultural days

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Multicultural fairs have brought the world to students at Ohio Elementary School and Calcium Elementary School this month.

“It’s a celebration of diversity and differences,” Ohio Elementary School Principal Mark L. Taylor said.

Ohio Elementary held its multicultural day and fair last Wednesday; Calcium Elementary’s was held Friday.

At Calcium Elementary, English as a second language teacher Laurie M. France said items such as clothing, currency, toys, flags, art and food from other countries were displayed at themed tables.

Ms. France said she and colleagues had been working since January to get everything ready. She said the children could experience all of the booths and displays the way they would at a museum. And more samplings of food were added this year.

“When they’re sampling, they’re experiencing a part of that culture,” Ms. France said.

Caroline Grimsey, mother of four students in the district, brought in information boards and artifacts displaying tidbits about Scotland, her home country. She had everything from a Scottish terrier stuffed animal, miniature double decker bus, teapot and teacup, to a kilt her son once wore and shortbread cookies.

“The tea and teapot are popular things with the kids,” Mrs. Grimsey said. “If you go into a house in Scotland, you’ll always have tea and biscuits offered.”

In the English as a second language program, Ms. France said she works with people who have come from different countries and speak different languages. The program emphasizes the importance of diversity, she said.

For other children, the fair was an opportunity to learn about how other people live and celebrate their lives around the world.

Mayleen J. Talimeliyor said she’s been bringing objects and mementos from her home in Chuuk, one of four states in the Pacific island country of Micronesia. At her table, students kept coming up and asking “can we touch this?” about ornately carved pieces of wood called storyboards. She also had on display beaded necklaces that she said are used as a form of currency in her home country, as well as dresses a family member had made for her daughters.

The event concluded with a fashion show and dance. Mrs. Talimeliyor’s daughters, Tiara and Sonya, performed traditional Chuukese dances with some of their classmates.

“They are going to do a child’s dance,” Mrs. Talimeliyor said. “It’s sort of a warrior dance with sticks.”

Second-grader Yasmin J. Marquez said she was happy to get to perform the dances and to learn about her friend’s Micronesian culture.

Craft stations with different themes also were set up: students could make papier-mache flowers for the Mexican Day of the Dead, leis at the American station, a Chinese fan, Edelweiss hats and a chandelier for the annual celebration in the Philippines known as Pahiyas Festival.

Ms. France said the American table was new this year to celebrate the culture of people across America.

Elizabeth M. Murphy, who teaches a food and culture class at Alexandria High School, said she has had students participate in the cultural fair for the past 14 years.

Her students made more than 400 origami hats to give to each student who came through the doors.

High school student Giovanni D. Stevenson said he and his classmates volunteered to come and chose what table they would work at. The student volunteers served food such as nachos and red rice at the Mexican-themed tables, a Vietnamese dish of rice noodles and vegetables, and hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and pancakes at the American-themed table.

At Ohio Elementary, Mr. Taylor said some of the cultures represented were Mexican, Nigerian, Irish, Australian, Vietnamese, Italian, French and Japanese. Students enjoyed Japanese sushi, Vietnamese Hanoi bananas, Italian wedding soup, Australian oat cookies, American mini hot dogs and French chocolate.

For entertainment, second-graders sang a Mexican folk song, “Las Mananitas,” and a Nigerian folk song, “Ise Oluwa.” Mr. Taylor said cloggers performed a traditional Midwestern American dance, and a schoolwide Zumbathon ended the day.

Three exchange students from Immaculate Heart Central School came as cultural ambassadors representing their home countries of China and Germany. Mr. Taylor said the exchange students wrote out words and phrases in their native languages for the younger children.




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