Academy Students Celebrate International Day

ELIZABETH–“We can’t just talk about diversity, but it must be in our thinking and in our actions.” That thought from a poem entitled “Diversity Is a Good Thing”, by Deirdre Blair, was more than adequately brought to life during Benedictine Academy’s (Elizabeth) annual International Day celebration held on April 4.

The diversity and vibrancy of nearly twenty nationalities and cultures represented by the school’s student body was showcased on International Day at the all-female Catholic college prep high school. The richness of those cultures- American, African, African-American, Asian, Indian, Italian, Latino, Portuguese, Spanish, Sri Lankan- was explored in various ways. Students had an opportunity to learn about customs and traditions of the different countries through classroom workshops given by their peers, representing Asia, Brazil, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Equador, Ghana, Haiti, Jamaica, Ireland, Italy, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, Sri Lanka and Trinidad. Students each received an International Day “passport” which allowed them to attend four workshops of their choice. The goal was to have all students learn something new about one another.

International Day 2012 also featured a parade of flags, with students carrying the colors of the many countries represented at BA, symbolizing “all coming together as one”. The young women students along with faculty and staff watched ethnic dance demonstrations and heard songs and poems, and sampled various ethnic foods, which all added a cultural dimension to the day. A pageant showcasing students wearing colorful costumes signifying their cultural heritage was a highlight of the event.

Abie Omokaro of Hillside, a senior who helped organize the event, welcomed students, staff and guests by quoting from the poem by Deirdre Blair.

“‘Where would we be without diversity? Something that includes not only them, but both you and me. We wouldn’t have variety, or change or ethnic differences. We wouldn’t be able to enjoy each other’s accomplishments. Importance would be diminished of what each person has to say. We wouldn’t be able to flourish in an environment like the USA. Without all of the different people we encounter, where would we be?’”

Omokaro and classmate Maryann Nwako of Union both organized the event along with faculty member Amy Paul. “International Day gives a chance to formally celebrate and embrace our cultures as well as others, in the hopes of building solidarity and compassion!” Omakaro pointed out. “I hope all of our students see today as a chance to come together to celebrate each other,” she added.

Administrators at Benedictine Academy hope that International Day, now in its ninth year, will help students gain a better understanding of other students’ cultures and backgrounds…that “different” is nothing to fear…and, that students can learn from one another and enrich their own selves and cultures.

International Day “passports” were issued to all students at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth on April 4 enabling them to attend four multi-cultural workshop presentations of their choice during the event. A total of eleven workshops were offered. Students educated their peers about their specific cultures and traditions. The goal was to have all students learn something new about one another. The event also featured foods, songs, poems and dances, ethnic costumes, and a parade of flags, with students carrying the colors of the many countries represented at BA, symbolizing “all coming together as one”.

A costume pageant during Benedictine Academy’s International Day taught students about the different traditions of many countries. Representing the countries of their heritage are (l-r): (Pakistan) Mehek Kulsoom of Newark; (Spain) Erin Pernas of Hillside; (Nigeria) Osato Omakaro of Hillside; (Columbia) Giani Montalvo of Elizabeth; (Ghana) Beatrice Thompson of Newark; (Puerto Rico) Idida Rojas of Newark; (Mexico) Karen Montes of Newark; (Domanique) Regina Prince of Irvington; (Togo) Eunice Waklatsi of Elizabeth; (Dominican Republic) Ariana Taveras of Newark; and (Brazil) Marina Santiago of Newark. The richness and variety of nearly twenty nationalities and cultures represented by the BA student body was celebrated during the event on April 4.

Benedictine Academy students (right: bottom, top) Vanessa Rodriguez of Roselle and Stephanie Anibal of Elizabeth serve some Empenadas to (left: bottom, top) Nicole Carvalho of Newark and Chiara Gonzaga of Hillside, during their school’s International Day held April 4. Food from Columbia and Brazil was featured at the workshop the four attended during the annual event, which is now in its ninth year at the all-female Catholic college prep high school.

Representing Portugal as their families’ country of ancestry, Benedictine Academy juniors Barbara Borges of Hillside (left) and Kelly Amorim of Newark presented a workshop on Portuguese traditions and facts during International Day, held April 4, at the Academy.

Cassidy Deegan of Rahway, representing Ireland, demonstrated a little about the sport of “hurling”, during Benedictine Academy’s International Day, held April 4 at the all-female Catholic college prep high school in Elizabeth. Deegan is a freshman at the school.

Ramira Mayse (left) of Linden, a sophomore at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth, samples some Asian food served by senior students Dinh Do (center) and Andrea Mendoza, both of Union. Do and Mendoza helped present a workshop on Asian culture (China, Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam) during the Academy’s annual International Day held April 4 at the school. (All photos courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

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