St. Margaret’s students, faculty and staff came together for a celebration of culture, heritage and traditions during Language and Culture Day. Led by the school’s world language department and Department Chair Marta Austin, Middle and Upper School students participated in various activities supporting the inclusivity of the St. Margaret's community.
Prior to this year, the event focused on the celebration of world languages studied at St. Margaret’s. This year’s expansion initiated a celebration of everyone’s cultural heritage, instead of a focus on just languages. Upper School Assistant Principal Ryan Dahlem said, “St. Margaret’s is committed to developing cultural competency skills within our students, and understanding one’s own cultural identity is an important aspect of this work. The process of engaging in an event like Language and Culture Day encourages us to reflect on our cultural identities, speak to family elders about our unique histories and stories, and come together as a community with the mindset of learning from one another in the context of the rich diversity that exists at our school.”
Students participated in activities that included a fashion show of cultural dress from Taiwan, China, Japan, Mexico and Spain. Students who did not participate in the fashion show still took part in the celebration and wore cultural outfits from India, Korea, Cambodia and other countries. “What was fun as well was that students who did not have cultural dress wore free dress in the colors of the flag or flags of their cultural heritage,” said Mrs. Austin.
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Sophomore Evette Chung participated in the fashion show representing Taiwan. She dressed in Taiwan’s tribal clothing to indicate that Taiwan is a separate country from China. She said, “I was very fortunate to be a part of the fashion show to learn about how languages and cultures are something not to be ridiculed at, but to exemplify an individual’s identity.”
Upper School students also participated in crafts including student-made pinatas, Chinese calligraphy, Via Romana Socolata (Roman road made from chocolate), tapas and salsa sampling. Middle School students made Chinese lanterns, took part in salsa tasting and gladiator games with noodles and whiffle balls. Both Middle and Upper School students also wove together several colors of yarn with wood to create an Ojo de Dios (eye of God in Spanish). Traditionally created for a celebration or blessing, Ojo de Dios is an ancient contemplative and spiritual practice.
“Language and Culture Day is an amazing way to learn more about the many diverse aspects of our school. I took pride in the mutual feeling of respect that all of the student body and faculty shared for each other's distinct cultures. It was especially interesting to see students wear their traditional clothing, representing Taiwanese, Japanese or even Spanish heritages. However, I was most intrigued by students wearing outfits of a different culture, such as a Syrian and German student wearing a traditional Chinese Qipao, which showed respect for a foreign culture. Among other activities, creating Ojos de Dios or learning how to write Chinese calligraphy gave me a new perspective on the traditions that I practice and those I'm surrounded by,” said Makaela Weeda, grade 10.