Students explore the world under one roof
April 28, 2009
By Chantelle Lusebrink
In a gym full of brightly colored costumes, posters and samples of native foods, students at Issaquah Valley Elementary School proved you don’t have to leave Issaquah to explore the world.
Families gathered April 24 to celebrate their school’s diverse cultures at the second annual culture fair. Students celebrated their descendants’ heritage, which included 26 different countries or cultures.
“There are many people from different countries in our community, but we don’t always get to see each other at school,” said Lucy Zou, a parent coordinator for the event. “It is important to bring everyone together, because I think once you see something, you understand why certain cultures do things a certain way. We have an understanding of one another and that understanding is really important in a community.”The event is a culmination of studies about other cultures throughout the year.
Students geared up for the event by researching their ancestors’ or families’ cultural roots, exploring the geography, politics and history of the country, and creating poster board displays with photos.
Displays from countries including South Africa, Morocco, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, Ireland and several Scandinavian countries, like Sweden and Norway, were spread throughout the aisles.
The Ukraine presentation listed common English-to-Ukrainian phrases travelers should know to get around their country. Students also decorated their table with colorful, wooden Ukrainian eggs, something many Ukrainian people do as a craft.
At the Moroccan display, parent June Sekiguchi helped serve people traditional apples spiced with cinnamon, sugar and orange-flower water and mint tea, something she said they drink commonly.
“I really like the things from all around the world, especially the ones that would perform in front of all the people,” third-grader Sara Kim said. “I also really liked Mexico’s one, because there was a lot of colorful decorations.”
But the evening wasn’t all about twisting your way through the labyrinth of presentation boards and people — there was plenty of entertainment, too.
First-grader Anusha Donepudi and kindergartner Sanjana Vulisetti performed several traditional East Indian dances for the audience.
“I loved the first part we did when we were dancing the first song,” Anusha said of their dance that had them twirling around the stage together. “But I most liked that we had to go around and collect all the different stamps from the places.”
Each student was given a passport book they received a stamp in when they visited a new country or culture.
The girls’ parents agreed.
“I’ve enjoyed portraying our culture for our community and seeing how we are the same,” said Sunitha Kothapalli, Sanjana’s mother. “They have their traditional dress, their food and customs, like we do.”
In addition, several grades of students performed songs for their families, including the fourth-graders, who performed “Hello to the Children of the World.”
Other parents, like SangYu Nam, chipped in with their talents, as well. Nam painted traditional Korean and Chinese calligraphy for families who wanted to take home a souvenir.
Also appearing onstage was George Chin, an engineer by profession, but a Chinese opera singer by hobby. He plays with the Washington Chinese Opera Club.
“It increases cultural understanding,” Chin said about why he attended the event. “They watch TV, but only know what U.S. programming is. This adds a little different cultural flavor for them.”
Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.