The elementary school serves close to 700 students from diverse backgrounds. Over the years, Principal Kevin Caifa has found that this event is an important part in embracing the students’ culture and collective history. The three hour festivity enables each class to experience different ways of life by giving them an opportunity to research other cultures, taste a range of delicacies and see traditional clothing from various civilizations.
For several weeks leading up to the event, students researched their families’ heritage and were encouraged to create posters, bring in souvenirs and food that represent their ethnic backgrounds as a part of their social studies curriculum. In addition, parents were able to get involved in their children’s lessons by sharing favorite family recipes.
Melissa Peters was happy to take part in this event, where she brought her son’s favorite sweets, like cheese roles and pineapple tarts, from a local Guyanese bakery. “I think this event is a good opportunity to try new things,” she said.
After much planning and preparation, the staff, students and their parents were able to see the fruits of their labor during the afternoon event. Throughout the school there were posters strung up on the walls displaying history about Chile, Nigeria, Guyana and other countries. Almost a hundred trays were scattered across tables throughout the gymnasium as students eagerly waited with empty plates, forks and spoons in hand. Many of the trays featured food like Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Guyanese pastries, Dominican mangu (mashed plantains garnished with onions) and other delectable delights.
Ten-year-old Yadhira Rodriguez was happy to serve herself baked mac and cheese, Puerto Rican flan (custard cake) and Dominican mangu. “I look forward to this day every year because I can try different food,” she said looking at the baked chicken and corn bread in anticipation.