The world came to on Dec. 19 for World Culture Day with the fifth grade students in Mrs. Reyes and Mrs. Sackett's classes. Through food, music and poems, the students learned a little more about their world and the people that they share it with.
Preparation started weeks ago with an email from the class parents calling for parents to make a dish to share from their culture. Parents were also asked to come in and share in the celebration by singing songs, playing instruments or reciting stories to add to the enrichment of the day.
“Students from all different cultures make up our classroom,” said Ana Reyes, Tuscan fifth grade teacher. “We do this to help build understanding and tolerance — which allows us to embrace each other.”
Many different cultures were represented with food from Italy, India, Japan, Ireland, Argentina, the Caribbean and Mexico. Music was provided by the Luke-Milo Trio which consists of two slide trombonists, Susan Dillion and Ben Williams, and one keyboardist, Dave Shields. All three are parents of students in the class. The trio played traditional winter songs which the students loved, including music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and Jingle Bells, as well Christmas and Hanukkah songs.
But the food was the star for the students. They were able to sample sushi, eat baked ziti, taste collard greens and have latkes with a choice of apple sauce or sour cream. While most of the food was made by only the parents, there was one that was made by generations.
“My mom is in town and we made empanadas, just like old times,” beamed Lucila McElroy. McElroy, originally from Argentina, said she hadn't made them in over 20 years. But this time she was able to make them with her mother and her daughter. “It was really beautiful.”
While the food may have been a treat for the students, the parents' treat was something entirely different. Each child read a poem called “I Am From...” where the child filled in the blanks with their favorite things.
“I am from hot chocolate and gooey marshmallows.”
“I am from vacations on the beach with my family.”
“I am from root beer floats.”
“I am from the sound of Italian when my mother and grandmother don't want me to hear.”
“I am the first time my brother saw snow and ended up face first in it.”
“I am from Harry Potter.”
“I am from football.”
“I am from my dog curled up in my lap.”
One by one, students read what made each one of them unique. And the parents, some a bit teary eyed, sat beaming, thinking proudly that their fifth graders might actually know a bit more about the world than they thought.