One of my favorite school family evenings of the year is the Cultural Carnival. This community cultural night celebrates the rich diversity at our elementary school and teaches our kids about other cultures.
This past year ten countries were represented at different booths in the gym. From Myanmar to Nigeria to Uzbekistan, we learned about traditions and languages across the globe. Families at the school hosted the different tables and shared their family heritage.
At Community Cultural Night, families were willing to talk about whether they still have family in the country or how often they traveled back to visit. Their story was important to the rest of us and we all learned from each other. It was a great way to connect with other parents and their kids. It was also a great way for children of families from a variety of cultures to feel valued.
I won’t deny that while hearing the personal stories of my student’s classmates was great, the fact that most booths offered fantastic nourishment delighted our family. From main dishes to dessert, the wide array of tasty bits was so generous. Families were proud to showcase the food and share their favorites with us.
I was proud of our kids for trying a “polite bite” of almost everything. We talked about different diets and how some people eat more rice or tortillas instead of bread. It was such a fantastic experience for our kids to be able to taste a variety of flavors at the Cultural Carnival Night. Really, the whole night was a great way to expose our family to something besides the Midwest casserole.
My husband grew up in a small Midwestern town and I was raised in a western Chicago suburb. To say we had little to no diversity in our formative years is a gross understatement. For us, the diversity represented at our kids’ school is something we feel so blessed to include in our lives now. If your kids’ school doesn’t have a lot of diversity, or doesn’t have a Cultural Night yet, the Quad City Moms Blog also has ideas on raising culturally minded kids, and ways white moms can fight racism and spread love.
We love the experience our kids get at Earl Hanson Elementary in Rock Island. There are over seven languages spoken in homes represented by the school. The cultural diversity offers a lot of amazing advantages for our boys to learn. Last year at the school holiday program, my husband and I were overjoyed with the range of ethnicities and cultural differences that come together at this amazing school.
If you’re hoping to create a great family night at your school, we highly recommend asking families to share about their backgrounds in a Community Cultural Night. If you’re lucky, they’ll bring food!