Francis Lewis Celebrates Cultural Diversity at the International Festival

Francis Lewis High School is a school with a diverse population and through the annual International Festival, students are able to celebrate and represent their culture and background with the school community. On the 16th of April 2019, students, family members, friends and faculty gathered in the auditorium to watch the performances of their peers and encourage cultural acceptance. There were 21 performances in total, with cultures represented from different countries around the world, such as China, Korea, Japan, El Salvador and Russia.

The significance of expressing one’s culture is especially important in our community due to its diversity. The coordinators of this event, Pilar Carrera and Mercedes Gutierrez, expressed their view and motive of putting this event together.

“The initial motivation for the festival was to promote understanding of different cultures and a sense of community,” Ms. Carrera said. The message that I want the festival to convey is that at Francis Lewis High School we recognize and appreciate every students’ heritage.”

One of the performances showcased was by the Spanish Club which performed three types of traditional birthday dances. The dances include La Chona, Merengue and Payaso de Rodeo, showcasing the different traditions in Latin America.                                                      

“It’s just these super fun dances where you are always jumping and you’re smiling,” junior Vania Tong said. “It just represents how Latinos and Spanish people are always happy and very moving in a way.”

As important as it is to acknowledge one’s background, it is equally important to learn and understand it as well.   Tong voiced her perspective on the lack of appreciation for one’s culture in today’s society.

“It’s very important, especially in this generation because a lot of traditions and cultures, they’re slowly disappearing because values are not being taught as much,” Tong added.  “It’s very important because it’s a huge part of our identity.”

Cultural representation is an important step towards cultural acceptance. Demonstrating small traditions, even as simple as how different cultures celebrate birthdays, can educate others and help them see how similar cultures might be to one another.

“It represents our culture because as Hispanic people birthdays are very special,” junior Daniel Chang said.  “It’s a time to have fun and celebrate a birthday with family and friends.”

Although having to prepare for a performance can be stressful, many memories can be made. Students can come together to showcase their cultural traditions while still enjoying themselves.

“Even though people are [stressed] from homework, we still meet up and we still laugh while we dance,” Tong said.  “I don’t think that I will ever forget that because it is very memorable.”