Global Diversity Fair: Good Fun and Learning for All
On Thursday, January 26, the Weston PTO sponsored the Global Diversity Fair (GDF) for the elementary school population–that is Field, Country and Woodland Schools. I will continue to say that Weston has the cutest named elementary schools on the planet, but really needs work on Middle and High Schools. I think it’s time to go for corporate sponsorship like the major leagues do– New Balance High School, anyone? Pretty good title, really…or the Spindrift Middle School, complete with sailing team. Because….Weston. I’m kidding of course, relax, Weston. Back to the Diversity Fair.
The Weston Global Diversity Fair has been around in various “guises” since its arrival on the scene in 2017 at Country School. Catalina Salebe, Principal Erin Maguire and Aida Arian started a Multicultural Fair that year with just 10 tables and no food. But it was well-loved, and so, sensing a good thing when it saw it, Field School jumped on board then Woodland as well (I am summarizing here–this is like Cliff’s Notes for International Fairs). The last iteration of the Fair before last week was the Field School Diversity Fair: Embassies Around the World in February 2020 and then…the p word…pandemic. And now, with the amazing enthusiasm of administrators, faculty and parents, it’s back, now as the Global Diversity Fair.
What’s it all about, you might ask. Well, it’s about learning snippets about the many countries whose citizens or former citizens now call Weston home. And you might be surprised about how many countries there are…and how many more there probably are who did not attend.
The 2023 Global Diversity Fair had over thirty countries and territories represented as well as ten performances. It was a record turnout event for the elementary schools. In all, there may have been close to three hundred people in attendance. Sadly only 275 passports had been ordered, and halfway through, they were gone. Several kids had pieces of paper to stamp with the passport stamps and then a couple tattoed their arms–one said to me: “don’t worry, I have swimming later and it will come off.” As for volunteers, there were approximately 75 to 80 people between booths and performers. Sadly, as the lone volunteer in Brazil, I was unable to get around to the other booths to scarf food and learn new things. Next year I am bringing employees.
Elementary student attendees to the fair were given “passports” to all of the countries which they could get stamped with the individual country names, and fill in what they learned about the countries. I am not sure how much they actually learned about any country except at least for Brazil, they learned that lime cookies are go od, button soccer is crazy and purses can be made from soda pop tops. I do know that when I asked one boy what he had learned about Brazil and he said “the capital is Puerto Rico” so there’s that.
Catalina Salebe, the GDF event chair, said: “Families hosting booths were very, very creative this year. We had booths with printers to print coloring pages on the spot, peoples’ names in Arabic, Zhenshu calligraphy, photo booths; one did henna tattoos; we had a massive variety of food, displays and arts and crafts that kept kids entertained.”
You can see the countries which were confirmed to attend–read later when I call out two countries that were not there. Oh, just kidding, Brazil almost didn’t make it so we get it when stuff happens and borders close. The main point here is did you know we had so many countries represented in our schools? No? Well, now you do and I leave it to you to find out more about them.
Where was I? Ah yes, the GDF. The Owl was at the fair not because she has elementary school children nor is actually from a foreign country (well, New York City is its own unique place) or has diversity other than Friesian and Holland-ish ancestors. Nope, of course I was representing my favorite adopted country, Brazil, and was even supposed to have two owlets there to help out. Alas, teenagers. So only I got to practice my Portuguese and explain things like what’s written on my cheat sheet here:
Here’s what I learned: you always always want the stand next to the Venezuelans. Wow, those arepas were good, and maracuja juice, and yeah, there was dessert too. I also learned that I do not wish to work a booth next year, I wish to walk around and eat and learn from all these amazing folks. Some other countries’ booth staff stopped by–Cabo Verde and I had a good time trying to figure out each other’s accents and apparently, their food was AMAZING. I met most of the Brazilian nannies in town, all of them happy to see their home country snacks and speak some Portuguese. Brazilians are the best; fight me. Some of the parent attendees shared stories of their past or future visits to Brazil, and asked me about how I came to live for nine years in that wonderful place.
So, how about a Global Diversity Fair for the Town of Weston with everyone in town invited? While I completely appreciate that we are doing Celebrate Weston again this spring, what about celebrating global diversity too? And no, I’m not volunteering to lead the charge. But I am totally starting an International Families club and inviting Uganda, Cabo Verde, Venezuela, Colombia, and any other group that had rocked the GDF. Bring food.
Now, I want to make sure I fully appreciate the group of people who brought the fair together. And I just know I am going to forget someone, and I apologize… send me a note and tell me who else needs thanks. And I will say the following again and again: Weston Public Schools are the best. Yeah, we no longer have foreign exchange program possibilities (do not get me started AGAIN) but we do have some amazing folks doing amazing things–and our volunteer crew of PTO reps is the envy of the world. Trust me on that.
Thank you to Elementary School PTO Co-Chairs (Laura Wilson, Taylor McIntire, Jessie Grasshoff, Jess Kaplan, Meghan Covington, Emily Malenfant) and GDF Event Chair Catalina Salebe! In addition, I have heard that Dr. Green, the principal of Field School was a major force behind the event, as well as Christopher Memoli who was “instrumental” (haha) in getting some of the performers from the high school. Mrs. Lazo, the METCO Academic Liaison for Country and Woodland Schools, also brought a Chilean group to perform dances. And thank you to Pramita Chowrira, a Field School parent, who generously donated the cool passports. Finally, to all of the parents who went over the top and represented your cultures and shared them with our students, you are the very best.
You all deserve arepas and applause!