Photo by Jeylin White
Students at Martin Luther King Elementary School perform a Bollywood routine, a dance style from India. This was during the school’s Multicultural Celebration, held at the school Tuesday evening.
The aromas of Italian, Mexican, Indian, and Vietnamese cuisine filled the air at Martin Luther King Elementary School’s cafeteria in College Park. Several parents, teachers and students came out to feast on the assortment of foods in support of the school’s Multicultural Diversity Celebration.
“We just have such a large population of diverse people so I thought it would be a good thing to validate those cultures,” said Carrine Fessehaye, who was responsible for putting the event together.
Fessehaye, an English Speaking of Other Languages (ESOL) instructor at MLK Elementary, is originally from Jamaica. Nearly 200 people took part in the Tuesday night celebration, which was geared to educate students and parents on the various cultures that are represented at the school.
“It was just wonderful,” said Fessehaye. “It really shows people are interested in diversity and learning about other cultures.”
The event kicked off with students parading on stage, in attire representative of their respective cultures. Fifth-grader Ramatulai Jagne, 10, showed off the fashions of Gambia in Africa.
“I’m proud of my country,” proclaimed the fifth-grader.
The highlight of the night, and most popular among attendees, was the dance performances. Students performed dances of all different styles: Massai, square dancing, Polynesian, Bollywood, and reggae.
Isaiah Hope, a fourth-grader, performed the square dance routine, but said his favorite was the Bollywood routine from India.
“They were the best,” said Hope, 10. “I like my routine but I would have to say they did a better job.”
He was not the only one raving about the Bollywood routine. Julinda Norton, a College Park resident supporting two daughters who attend MLK Elementary, also called it her favorite.
“All the dance performances were good but those girls did a really good job,” said Norton.
Though Fessehaye was the one responsible for making sure the event got off without a hitch, she credited parents, community members, and her fellow co-workers, who donated supplies and food, for the celebration’s success.
“It took two months to put this together,” said Fessehaye. “Everybody just wanted help and I appreciate that.”
Dr. Evelyn Wynn-Dixon, Riverdale’s mayor, stopped by.
“This was a great endeavor and a good way to showcase the various cultures in the school,” said Wynn-Dixon. “It’s always a good thing to teach our children about diversity.”
Norton agreed with the mayor. She said it was good for the youngsters to see what other cultures are like and learn about their, fashions, religions and lifestyles.
“Kids were also able to see some of the similarities with their own cultures,” said Norton. “The food was also great.”
Hope said he took away some valuable information and learned something he didn’t know about Africa.
“I learned that most Africans like to play soccer,” said the youngster.