Every year, PS 346 hosts their annual multicultural festival in June. The event embodies the school’s work on inclusiveness and celebrating the student bodies’ diverse heritage. Parent Coordinator, Onika Hawker, loves organizing this event because it gets the students interested in their personal history and invites pa-rents to be involved in their child’s project. “I absolutely love the smiles on the children’s faces when they are able to express their favorite food from their culture, and the happiness they feel when working with their parents to make a certain dish,” Hawker said.
On Friday, June 8th, PS 346’s gymnasium bustled with music, laughter, and children as they awaited their multicultural lunch-time special. Several tables lined the gym walls, all of which were covered in an assortment of dishes from cultures around the globe. The delicious aromas from each dish had many of the children’s mouths watering as they peered at all of the options available. Some tried to pile on large portions of their favorite foods, while others were more cautious with their plate space, so that they could include as many different things as possible.
Six-year-old, Nyla Figueroa, bounced on the heels of her feet while she watched spoonful’s of rice being placed on her plate. “Rice and beans are always my favorite. I like rice a lot,” she said enthusiastically.
There were traditional Puerto Rican and Dominican dishes like rice and beans, platanos (sweet banana), and tostones (a firmly fried banana) being served in one area, while Asian cuisines such as Lo Mein, dumplings, and spring rolls were served in another. The tantalizing smells from each table were enough to draw out excitement from every student, teacher, and parent in attendance.
Seven-year-old Khody Green didn’t know where to start first. He knew he had limited space to fill on his plate, so he made sure that every culinary delight he chose was tasteful. “I wanted to try everything. It all smells so good! My favorite thing to eat is usually lasagna, but I’m willing to try different things,” Green said happily as he eyed the dessert table hungrily.
The multicultural event went on from 11 am to 1 pm, so that each class from pre-kindergarten up to fifth grade had an opportunity to enjoy a diverse lunch. There was no shortage of food because parents continued to stop by and add more dishes to the fun feast.
Parent volunteer, Roxanne Thomas, was happy to participate in the event with her nine-year-old daughter by cooking Guyanese-style Vegetable Chow Mein. “This is my third year volunteering at the multicultural event. I like this event the most because it exposes the children to various cultures, traditions, and experiences,” Thomas said.
Hawker was happy to see that the festival was a continued success and she hopes for even more diverse dishes and parent involvement for next year’s event.
Photos by: Amanda Moses