Benedictine Academy Community Celebrated Diversity On International Day 2013

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ELIZABETH — Maya Angelou once said that “in diversity, there is beauty and strength”. The richness of those qualities rang out during Benedictine Academy’s “International Day 2013”, when the diversity and vibrancy of over 20 nationalities and cultures represented by the school’s student body was celebrated. The event was held Oct. 24 at the all-female Catholic college prep high school located in Elizabeth.

The richness of those cultures- American, African, African-American, Asian, Brazilian, Indian, Italian, Latino, Portuguese, Spanish, to name several- 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 Brazil, the Caribbean, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Spain. Students each received an “International Ticket to Discover the World” 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 2013 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. In addition, a pageant showcasing students wearing colorful costumes signifying their cultural heritage was a highlight of the event.

A keynote speech was delivered by Rosemary Anderson, Benedictine Academy’s Director of Development. Anderson expanded on the theme of a children’s book, “If the World Were a Village” by David J. Smith. The book, said Anderson, offers a look at “what our world of seven billion plus people would be like if it were only a village of one hundred people”. Anderson offered very interesting statistics on the makeup of the “village” with regard to gender, language, religion, education, age, freedom of speech, and color. “The point is,” said Anderson, “we share this precious small village with our neighbors.” “I encourage you to think world-mindedly, look out for your neighbor, ask questions, and do not break faith with anyone in your community,” Anderson added. She also encouraged the students to “have passion- some of you will go on to help solve the world’s problems; develop your vision; be curious and ask questions.”

Administrators at Benedictine Academy hope that International Day, now in its tenth 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.

Benedictine Academy was founded by the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth in 1915 to serve young women in Elizabeth and the surrounding communities. A Catholic, college preparatory high school, the mission of the Academy is to educate young women to be responsible leaders of the 21st Century. Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, 100% of Benedictine Academy graduates are accepted and go on to college. Celebrating its 99th year in Elizabeth, the Academy offers a valuable educational experience to students of the Catholic and various Christian faiths representing the richness and variety of over twenty nationalities and cultures, primarily from Union and Essex Counties. Focusing on academic growth and character formation in the Benedictine tradition, the Academy challenges students to become life-long learners who are intellectually curious, rooted in the Gospel, and committed to justice and integrity. Academic achievement and personal growth are developed in a unique educational family setting.

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International Day “tickets” were issued to all students at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth on October 24 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”.

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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): Kathleen Conaty (Ireland); Elizabeth DaZalma (Haiti); Karina Costa (Portugal); Caridad Lambert (Cuba); and Rhodalin Sam (Ghana).
The richness and variety of over twenty nationalities and cultures represented by the BA student body was celebrated during the event on October 24.
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Benedictine Academy students Amanda Souza (right) and Laura Gomes (center) serve traditional Portuguese and Brazilian food to Amarylis Celi (left) during their school’s International Day held October 24. Food from many cultures was featured at workshops attended by students during the annual event, which is now in its tenth year at the all-female Catholic college prep high school.

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Karina DaCosta (right) representing Portugal, demonstrated traditional dance steps from her country of ancestry to Hallyn DePaulo during Benedictine Academy’s International Day, held October 24 at the all-female Catholic college prep high school in Elizabeth.

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Rosemary Anderson, Development Director at Benedictine Academy I Elizabeth, gave the keynote speech at this year’s International Day. Anderson encouraged the young women to “think world-mindedly, look out for your neighbor, ask questions, and do not break faith with anyone in your community”.
Seated, listening, is Benedictine Academy Student Council President Kiana Wilson-Carter.

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Sharing food, traditions and information about each other’s cultures helps make diversity rich, beautiful and strong at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth. (L-R) Gianna Silva, Emma Moxley, Bryana Lissinna and Sigourney Salazar all enjoy a moment of friendship and appreciation for the world around them during International Day 2013 at their school. All are freshmen at the Academy.

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Students participated in the Flag of Our Nations parade at Benedictine Academy during International Day held at the school on October 24. Flags represented the cultural heritage of students attending the Academy, symbolizing “all coming together as one”. American, Portuguese, Latino, Spanish, African-American, Italian, Polish, French, Cuban…were just some of the many cultures represented during this year’s International Day at the Academy. (Photos courtesy of Benedictine Academy)


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