From flowing Korean hanbok dresses to elaborate African kitenge fabrics, the International School of Beijing's (ISB) cultural diversity was on full display on October 14 as the school united to celebrate the 2016 International Day.
Cheered on by parents, teachers, and older students, elementary students paraded through the school’s hallways to a soundtrack of music from around the world. Students were grouped in seven regions in accordance with their heritage: North America, South/Latin America, Europe, Oceania, Africa, South Asia, and North Asia.
Now in its 24th year, International Day provides a fun-filled way for students and parents to share their culture and learn about others through entertainment, food, crafts, and games.
“Our kids are always very excited for International Day,” said PreK-3 teacher Karen Fidler. “Riding their tricycles with everyone cheering them on gives them an enormous sense of pride and deeper appreciation about what it means to grow and learn in our caring community.”
The last stop of the parade is the cafeteria where food vendors tempt the taste buds, serving delicacies from dozens of countries. Ice cream was a big hit last year, with one sold every 15 seconds over a two-hour period.
Approximately 1,650 students representing more than 50 nationalities joined administrators, faculty, staff, and parents browsing the parent-run showcases set up around the school. Each showcase offers food tastings, games, and information about a specific country or region. Many students don clothing representing their homelands.
Organized by ISB’s Parent-Teacher Association, International Day promotes the school’s rich cultural diversity and allows everyone to celebrate what makes them unique.
“Our students are growing up in an increasingly connected world where diversity of thought and cross-cultural literacy are extremely important,” said Tarek Razik, ISB’s Head of School. “We promote these understandings at ISB by upholding global-mindedness as a core school value. International Day is a fun way for our community to celebrate this value by coming together.”
This year’s entertainment included a Chinese drum ensemble, a bamboo-splitting katana show, an Ethiopian tea ceremony, and Indian henna hand painting.
“International Day is a celebration of the continents, countries, and cultures represented by our families,” said Cherry Wu, PTA president. “We have more than 50 nationalities at ISB, each of which enriches our school community and makes this such a special place for parents, teachers, and students.”