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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
If there are two things kids aren’t well known for, it’s a willingness to try new foods and cultural sensitivity. So, when the Chickering School PTO held their International Cultural Night on Friday, November 15, during which various parents, au pairs and family friends bought pieces of their nations of origin to the gymnasium, things could have gone bad very quickly.
Instead, everyone in attendance enjoyed themselves, learned something, and were more than willing to try various snacks from nations as diverse as Sierra Leone, Ghana, Russia, China, Pakistan, Haiti, Mexico, Scotland and Canada.
“This is the PTO’s International Cultural night,” explained Amee Tejani of the Chickering PTO. “We’ve got 24 families here volunteering to represent their countries through food, displays, [and] we’ll have a couple performances. It’s really just a fun night to show how diverse our community is and share our cultures with each other.”Students were given a worksheet that tasked them with answering questions like “Which country is known as the Rainbow Nation as a way of uniting the many people of different colors, races and tribes that live there? (South Africa)”; “Which country has a Heroes’ Day to honor those who fought for Independence? (The Cape Verde Islands)”; and “Which country celebrates the holiday Midsommar, held on the summer solstice with parties lasting through the well-lit night? (Sweden).”
Many people wore cultural outfits, ranging from Canadian Mountie gear and hockey jerseys to traditional Indian garb with facial jewelry. Additionally, most of the displays had been oriented to kids’ interests - the Denmark display, for example, was all about the country’s invention of Legos; Finland was all about being the home of Santa Claus; and (although the kids don’t watch the show) Scotland advertised a giant cutout of one of the heroes of the Scottish-set television show, “Outlander.”
While poster boards and national outfits were popular, the food was what the kids were most excited about. While there were plenty of snacks that weren’t too foreign - like Canada’s maple candy and Germany’s chocolate (which, unsurprisingly was more popular than German sauerkraut) - the students were more than willing to sample mango juice from Pakistan, meat pies from Ghana, rice pudding and glogg from Finland, and stroopwafels from Holland.
A Chickering student named Devin, who was representing Ghana with his family, spoke highly of the dumplings from China, while noting that nothing he tried was terrible. And while there were many American comparisons along the lines of “kind of tastes like Sprite” and “sort of like a ginger snap,” the only snack that seemed to be truly divisive was Holland’s drop candy, likely because black licorice itself inspires extremes of both love and hate.
On November 15, various members of the Chickering School community came together to show off their disparate cultures. The kids of the Chickering School, meanwhile, showed off an impressive openness to multiculturalism - one that will make their towns proud.