Enfield schools host Heritage Day Fair
By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Wed., Feb. 12, 2014
Students and families from many cultural backgrounds came together on Feb. 8 to celebrate their past at John F. Kennedy Middle School’s Heritage Day Fair.
The Enfield public schools sponsored the event to raise awareness of other cultures in the community. With the halls lined with tables that explained the customs of several countries, it was truly a day of celebrating diversity.
As guests entered the hub of the building, they were greeted by volunteer students from both of the Enfield high schools. Each visitor received a passport, and was challenged to get an ink stamp from each country or culture that was represented at the fair: Iraq, India, Peru, Italy, Kryrgyztan, Burma, Germany, Iran, USA, Native American, Somalia, Poland, Latin America, Jordan, Mexico, Greece, Egypt, Russia, Qatar, Laos, Romania, Columbia, Pakistan, China, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Afghanistan.
“I think the fair is a really cool way to educate people on the different countries and their cultures,” said student volunteer Scott Lucero. “You could say that this is like going around the world in 80 minutes,” joked Lucero.
There were several activities scheduled throughout the day. One such activity was learning how to move the Chinese ribbon. The Asian Performing Arts group took center stage in the auditorium and invited people of all ages to join in on the fun. Other activities included taking a salsa dance and belly dance lesson, learning karate, learning how to make origami and tour a native American wigwam.
The school cafeteria was lined with food tables from different cultures. The smell of the different food choices filled the air and tempted the guests while they walked from country to country.
Brooke Audette listened to Amani Issa as she explained the basics of the Islamic culture in Egypt. Issa showed pictures as well as actual displays of clothing options that the people of Egypt would wear. “The men that have inner city jobs dress very similar to the way the American men dress,” said Issa. “The men that work more along the cultural lines like farming and things like that would wear a more traditional outfit like the gallibayas. Peasant women would wear a gallabaya outdoors, but an upper class woman would only wear this inside the home. Outside, she would wear a tob sebleh. The reason that the women cover their hair is to show devotion to God.”
An organization called Youth For Understanding USA was on hand to answer questions that students or their families had about the organization’s goals. “We are a student exchange program,” said area representative Kathy Ulm. “We encourage high school students to go to other countries to learn their ways, and they, in turn, send a student to the USA. There are several scholarships that are unused each year because students just don’t seem to know about the program. We have had great success with our program and encourage any student that would like to go to Finland, Germany, Estonia, Japan, Uruguay or Thailand to contact the organization. It will be a life-changing experience.”
Paul Tschense is an exchange student from Germany. “I love it here,” said Tschense. “I do miss my family and friends, but I really love the United States. I have learned a lot and made a lot of friends. I would encourage students to apply for this. It is a great opportunity.”
Sophie Krzys, age 92, represented Poland along with Donna Swols. “I have brought a lot of my own things for people to see,” said Krzys. “The painted wooden eggs represent life. I have a cane that would be typically used to herd goats in the mountain region and all sorts of figurines that represent the polish people.” Krzys has been displaying her personal items at several Polish events. The two women were dressed in traditional dance outfits. “I think this event is a great way for people to better understand each other,” said Krzys.
For more information on the YFU program, go online to www.yfuusa.org or call 800-TEENAGE.