On Friday, October 7th, Collegiate 3rd and 4th graders attended the International Emerging Leaders Conference’s Cultural Fair, where they experienced the sights, sounds, smells, and traditions of ten different countries from all corners of the globe.
This Cultural Fair was organized by the International Emerging Leaders Conference (IELC), which was created by Director of Responsible Citizenship and Strategic Planning Clare Sisisky in 2011. During the conference, 41 international students from Lebanon, Morocco, Mexico, Italy, China, Malaysia, South Africa, India, Kazakhstan, and Spain worked with 18 Collegiate Senior Ambassadors in Design Thinking groups to generate products to solve the world’s pressing environmental challenges, all while forming friendships that will last a lifetime.
The Cultural Fair is one of many opportunities for the Lower School to connect to the conference, which mostly occurs in the Upper School. During the Cultural Fair, Collegiate 3rd and 4th graders traveled around the “globe” of the Estes Multipurpose Room with fake passports in hand. Throughout the room, the ten countries set up informational booths, where Collegiate students could learn more about a particular country’s culture, sample traditional foods, and receive stamps in their passports, just like real tourists.
In addition to the country booths, Collegiate students watched cultural performances by all ten countries in the conference. Whether they watched India’s Bollywood dance, Spain’s flamenco, or America’s swing dance, the students were able to experience something new in between booths.
Collegiate student Steele Viverette (‘18) was one of the American performers in the Fair. “I thought the Cultural Fair was very cool,” Viverette said. “ I liked to see all the different cultures, and I liked the displays. Performing in the Fair was stressful, but it was a lot of fun.”
Senior Ambassador Gillian Laming (‘17) said the Cultural Fair was “a great way to see what everybody’s home country is like, and the performances were really fun and upbeat.”
Collegiate’s French exchange student Baptiste Roussel was also in attendance. “We could taste and see traditions from different countries, and the Indian performance was really happy, expressive, and colorful,” Roussel said.
The international guests themselves found time in between performances and manning their booths to enjoy the Fair. Arshdeep Singh, from Modern School in New Delhi, India, remarked, “[The Cultural Fair] is so diverse. It feels like I belong to every country now.”
Dina Russakova, from Murager Regional Boarding School for Gifted Children in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, especially loved watching the other countries’ performances. “So many nations. I liked all the dresses. Everyone was so beautiful!”
Phenyo Dantjie from Lebone II College of the Royal Bafokeng in Phokeng, South Africa described the Cultural Fair as “an amazing experience where [he] was able to see the different foods, dances, and clothing of different cultures.”
In addition to allowing the international students to share their cultures with the Collegiate community, the Cultural Fair also teaches young children an important lesson about international relations.
Collegiate student Ava B. (‘24) loved talking to the international students and especially enjoyed talking to Samantha Foong from Malaysia. She remembers the international delegates themselves instead of the countries they were from.
By interacting with students from around the world at the Cultural Fair, Collegiate 3rd and 4th graders are exposed to international education at an early age. “It is important to know what there is outside of where you live,” Roussel explains. “Our world works at the international scale now, so it is important to know about other cultures to communicate easily.”
All photos by Brigid O’Shea and Taylor Thackston.