Mariachi musicians. Russian, Persian and Bollywood folk dancers. African dancing and drumming.
Had you visited Frostwood Elementary last weekend, such world music and dance showcases might have entertained and educated you.
Foods sizzled from China to Turkey – and more than a dozen national and ethnic stops in between.
Hundreds of families gathered on April 6 for the school’s 19th annual International Festival, showcasing food, crafts, and arts and games from around the world. This springtime gathering follows the school’s fall-time Parade of Nations, where many students dress up in traditional outfits reflecting the country of their choice.
The two international programs are designed to celebrate diversity at Frostwood and in the greater Memorial community, and to encourage students to be aware of the greater world around them by sampling a variety of world foods, crafts and activities, while experiencing an incredible range of entertainment.
The International Festival, held on the campus grounds, drew up to 1,000 people. Also known as IFest, the event takes months of campus and local PTA planning.
“Frostwood’s I-Fest touches people of all cultures and ages. It’s truly an event for everyone,” said festival chair Pina Patel.
Some comments gathered by Patel and other PTA event chairs include these:
- “I-Fest will always be one of my very favorite Frostwood events!” – School staff member
- “I can’t wait to try all the amazing food from around the world.” – Parent
- “My kids love the little passports and playing games from different countries.” – Parent
- “My daughter looks forward to the Henna artist every year!” – Parent
This year, 50 or more festival participants were featured. Key event volunteers include Memorial Middle National Junior Honor Society students and Memorial High’s student volunteer corps known as MMOB (Memorial Mustang Outreach Bunch).
“I had heard about our International Parade and Festival way before I arrived at Frostwood, but once I got to actually experience these, I was truly humbled and honored to be a part of this special place,” Principal Pamela Pennington said.
“We are an amazing community where our diversity, cultures, and languages are not simply accepted, but embraced and celebrated. Our families not only support our school, they support one another in and outside the classroom,” the principal also said.
Although it features food, dance, music and fun on one Saturday, the festival is a much deeper and wider campus experience, organizers said.
Hyekjung Chung, festival education chair, notes that the run up to the festival is a full month of educational enrichment inside the elementary school, ranging from cultural and geographic information and decorations to on-display artifacts. Glass school case displays inside show diverse cultures. Educational tents are set up with national themes outdoors on the festival weekend.
A festival favorite among all parents and students are delicious foods and dishes. This year, offerings hailed from China, India, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Honduras, France, Iran, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Turkey, Mexico and – last but not least – the United States.
Entertainment chair Liz Kabir noted that the music and dance showcase was non-stop. In addition to the Chinese Lion Dance, a Mariachi band, Russian folk dances and Persian dancers, visitors heard Indian drumming and even a Bollywood song and dance number.
Frostwood students played Chinese instruments, and other youth and religious groups represented Japan, Korea, Brazil and Greece.
Youth were given passport-style cards and encouraged to obtain stamps through a scavenger-hunt style tour of the festival grounds. Special national games were offered and, among girls, the Henna booth was a favorite station.
PTA event chairs included Pina Patel, event chair; Kavitha Tamerisa, parade chair; Hyekjung Chung, education chair; Bonnie Elhusseini, food chair; Liz Kabir, entertainment chair; Rebecca Otieno, games and craft chair; and Stacey Cho, decoration chair.