BY AMANDA MOSES
Every June, Abe Stark Primary School (PS) 346 rounds off the academic year by celebrating diversity with a multicultural lunch inside of their gymnasium. Parent Coordinator, Onika Hawker loves hosting this event because it invites more parent involvement and allows students to embrace their heritage. She particularly enjoys seeing the wonder and awe on the children’s faces as they discover food from a multitude of cultures.
Every corner of the school show-cased various parts of the world. Giant pandas, bamboo sticks and little caricatures of Shen Yun-esque dancers represented Chinese culture, while sombreros and colorful guitars with the words fiesta etched on the walls signified traditional Mexican party symbols.
Throughout the school year, students learn to embrace their culture as well as study the history of others. Many of them were asked to make family trees and during this project some children discovered that they had family members from distant parts of the world.
As one of the biggest parent involved events, Hawker proudly states that many of the mothers, fathers and even grandparents brought dozens of multicultural delicacies for the children to enjoy. There was something delectable for everyone: Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Puerto Rican red rice and beans, Latin empanadas, southern style macaroni and cheese, roasted turkey, and baked chicken.
Group by group, the students entered the gymnasium excitedly as they held onto their paper plates, peering over each of the tables trying to decide what to eat first. The aroma of spices, herbs, meats and other foods gave everyone in attendance a warm, homey feeling. Hawker believes this event further strengthens the bond between parents and students.
The three hour festivity is an honored tradition for Principal Kevin Caifa, whose school consists of almost 700 students. Caifa believes that this event is an important part in celebrating the school’s diverse culture and collective history.
Some of the children attending Multicultural Day wore outfits representing different countries, while others simply wore flags depicting their heritage. One class was so enraptured by Egyptian history that they decided to honor Egypt’s pharaohs, such as Nefertiti, Cleopatra, and Tutankhamun (also known as King Tut).
The entire event broadened students’ minds by giving them an opportunity to discover other cultures, taste a wide breadth of meals, and see traditional clothing from various civilizations.
Photos by Amanda Moses