Celebrating cultures and community at CultureFest

Mar 29, 2023

On March 16, Inglemoor hosted CultureFest 2023, which celebrated the multitude of heritages that make up the Viking student body. In the Northshore School District, over 300 languages are spoken, and having the cultural richness of our area celebrated in a school event can help students feel seen. CultureFest is for students and their families to share their cultures while enjoying each others’ company.

Countdown to CultureFest

Social studies teacher Brittany Kim (she/her) started planning CultureFest 2023 at the beginning of the school year. The early stages of planning included developing ideas, sharing goals and debating the best ways to organize things. As the day of the event neared, planning focused on logistics and bringing those ideas to life.

“The last month/month and a half before is looking at tech, making sure audio works, lighting, figuring out stages and physically getting that stuff ready and reserved,” said Kim.

Unfortunately, there were some setbacks with planning due to conflicting schedules with other events that led to some performers dropping out. Kim emphasized the mindset of adaptability it takes to put on community-centered events.

“I think especially with throwing a big event — one that’s community-oriented — you’ve got to kind of just be flexible. And what will be, will be. It’s not about me. It’s about community,” said Kim.

The previous CultureFest took place in 2019, before the pandemic.

“It was our first time doing it; we had so many staff and families and students come. What students told me or what other teachers told me was that it just made them feel more belonging at school,” said Kim.

Kim said that students were excited to participate and engage in the first CultureFest, and her goal was to help kids feel seen and that they belong at Inglemoor. While the first CultureFest was well received, the plans for the following year, unfortunately, had to be canceled because of COVID-19. There were plans to hold CultureFest online, but they fell apart.

Kim wants CultureFest to be a night to commemorate the diversity on campus and to help foster a stronger community, as well as set the tone for future events.

Celebrating at CultureFest

At the beginning of CultureFest, families set up their booths in the cafeteria, displaying photos and explanations of different cultural foods. There was a diverse array of foods to enjoy, from hearty vegetarian Jamaican curry and tropical fruit juices to savory Samoan chop suey. In addition, there was chicken kelaguen, a staple food in Guam, veal Russian dumplings and lasagna. There were also treats for those with a sweet tooth like honey cakes from Russia as well as small snacks like chewy mochi, pani popo and egg tarts. There were many trifolds set up to introduce different places around the world. Chinese Club set up informational displays about different places where Chinese is spoken — such as Shaanxi province and Hong Kong — and a little visual presentation about Chinese snacks. There were also colorful exhibits describing the foods from other places like Jamaica and Samoa, among other places.

At 6 p.m., after people had settled down and tucked into the delicious meals shared at CultureFest, a red carpet was rolled out for a fashion show where students got to model cultural garments. Senior Jasmine Ames-Aragon (she/her) strutted down the catwalk in a teal blue Native American Eastern Shoshone jingle dress. Senior Priyanka Kannan (she/they) wore a bright olive green sari, senior Isabelle Gerrard (she/her) wore a white hanbok and senior Kat Zuo (she/her) wore a blue qipao with gold embroidery. All the models showcased their outfits beautifully on the catwalk.

At the end of CultureFest, there was a variety of music and dance performances that shared rich cultural value and history with the audience. Math teacher Miki Bale (she/her) performed the song “Asadoya Yunta” on a sanshin, a three-stringed Okinawan instrument. She started to play a few years ago, beginning right before Covid, and put on a great show. Sophomore Amelia
Virgen (she/her) performed baile folklorico with grand gestures that were punctuated by swaying her charro-style pink dress. She danced to two songs, “Son de la negra” and “Jarabe tapatio.” Sophomore Sarah Krug (she/her) performed Scottish Highland dance, a traditional dance that originated from 11th century Scotland. She performed two dances: a highland fling and a blue bonnet. Sophomore Sarai Tauiliili (she/her) was accompanied by her cousins Eseta Tauiliili (she/her) and Manaia Tauiliili (she/her) as they performed a dance called Siva Samoa with graceful movements to the song “Manu O Le Vaveao.”

It was heartwarming to watch families enjoying themselves at CultureFest and sharing their cultures with the school. For Inglemoor’s second ever CultureFest, it was a fun night that brought excitement for what future celebrations will bring.

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