Students Travel Around the World During International Culture Night
With a “Citizen of the World” passport in hand, Dows Lane and Main Street School students explored and celebrated different cultures from around the world during the PTSA-sponsored International Culture Night: A Celebration of Global Togetherness on March 1.
“We hope the experience left the students and their families with a positive feeling that the cultural and natural diversity is beautiful, and it should be celebrated,” said Jasena Sareil, who co-chairs the PTSA International Culture Committee along with Liz Unis. “Diversity does not divide us; quite the opposite, it makes us stronger, since we all bring in something unique to the community and thus complement each other. We all have the same wishes: peace, love, friendship and good health. The event helped nurture bonding within our community.”
Throughout the event, the students visited 28 country stations, tasted authentic cuisine and watched several cultural performances. At each country station – created by families who brought a piece of their own culture or the one they admired – the students participated in interactive and educational activities. They completed arts and crafts, played musical instruments, sports and popular international games, learned common sentences in foreign languages, got to see traditional dresses, made croissants out of felt, made Italian pasta and much more.
The represented countries were Albania, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.
In addition to cultural diversity, the event celebrated natural diversity and inspired students to continue to protect and care for their environment. In the International Food Court station, located in the cafeteria, the students sampled authentic cuisine from around the world that was donated by more than 50 families and local businesses. As part of their environmental efforts, they used compostable dishware and utensils, and recycled and composted any food leftovers.
The evening concluded with nine cultural performances, ranging from dance to singing and sports. Before each act, children were invited to share their family background on stage and to introduce a performance.
“We are grateful to all families who contributed to the event by creating unique and wonderful country stations, bringing delicious food, showcasing their international talent on stage and volunteering,” Sareil said. “This truly was an amazing community effort.”
The International Culture Night – free to all participants thanks to the generosity of the PTSA – was made possible due to the support of the administration and staff, the PTSA Executive Committee, and the interest and engagement of the Irvington community. Special thanks to Irvington Middle School students for volunteering at the French country station, middle school French teacher Deanna Tessler for helping them prepare, Irvington High School student John Rynn for designing the event logo, as well as Diana Nasello Olzsewski for designing the passports and Kristy Schmitt at Irvington Printing for providing the printed materials.
“The energy of the event was palpable, filled with love, respect and excitement for the amazing cultural diversity represented in Irvington,” Principal Deborah Mariniello said. “It was an honor to collaborate with the PTSA International Culture Night Committee and host the event at Dows Lane.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison said the event provided an enriching experience for everyone in attendance.
“This was an amazing celebration of the beautiful Irvington school community,” Dr. Harrison said. “We are grateful for the incredible work that the committee dedicated to planning the event, the PTSA's sponsorship and, of course, the impressive contributions of so many community members.”