Celebrating our Cultures

Multicultural Night (MCN) again!

Last night I attended the MCN at the elementary school nearest to us.  My husband wanted to know if I was scouting for talent since those students feed into our school and I generally coordinate MCN here. Some of my former students, now in high school, were performing, and I wanted to be there for them.

I had completely forgotten how utterly charming elementary school students are.  Some of the entertainment numbers put me on cuteness overload. There were two Spanish songs that were a delight beyond words.  Most of the singers were not native speakers and I am assuming their FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools) teacher put these songs together.  In the first one, about 10 students come on stage and start singing a chorus that means “what sport do you like?” Each one then answers, starting with me gusta, and then they pick up a sports prop and sing about liking that sport.  The stage was littered with a baseball bat, basketball, soccer ball, tennis racket, frisbee, etc. The second Spanish song featured a stage full of young students wearing placard signs with large drawings or 3D items to indicate food items.  The chorus, in Spanish, was what do you like to eat? My absolute favorite was the giant donut. These songs were especially moving for me, as my daughter was once a FLES teacher at this very school. I thought about her a lot during the performance, wishing we could have been watching it together. She now lives out west and I miss having her nearby.

Then when it came to dance, the smile remained on my face.  There were a couple dance studios invited in to strut their stuff.  The Tae Kwan Do people danced to Beethoven’s fifth symphony with gusto and making techno moves.  You had to be there…. A small group of Indian students did a “Bollywood” performance. One of the youngest was the best dancer and the other dancers were  watching her throughout. My high school girls were next, dancing with joy in their hearts, and loving the music. The program ended with a Flamenco dance, the perfect dramatic exclamation mark to a fun-filled evening.

Watching the dancers reminded me of my own days appearing at school multicultural celebrations with my daughter back in the day when we took mother/daughter Irish dance lessons together. I even remember one year dancing with my daughter on the National Mall at some kind of Irish festival, such sweet memories.  I look around at these young moms wearing matching outfits with their daughters, and the families coming to elementary school where they are busy making friends they will still have when they are my age, and I am happy for them.These are the seeds that grow into lifelong trees of friendship, that feel like extended family.

What I love about Multicultural Night is the way it brings a community together over food and talent.  After all, what is hospitality without feeding people? That is also something i love about the parent group meeting at school on Saturday mornings.  The table in the back has croissants, deli meats, muffins, fruit, orange juice,and instant coffee. The table says good morning. Have some breakfast and then we’ll get started.

Celebrating our cultures can be a morning Latino parent breakfast, a multicultural night celebration, observing family holiday traditions, wearing green (insert smile here), or playing in a jazz band.  It can be anything that binds us to our families and helps us remember the long string of heritage that binds us together. And, we all have a heritage to cherish and to share.

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