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Madison Celebrates Diversity

Students, faculty and their guests enjoy food and dance from around the world at James Madison High School's International Night.

On one Friday evening, the dessert possibilities seemed endless. Students and faculty from James Madison High School, along with their guests, could choose from German apfelkuchen, basbosa from Egypt, alfafores from Bolivia or pastel de pina from El Salvador.

"There was a lot of good food from a lot of different ethnicities," said senior Hena Haidari. "I wanted to try all of it."

The variety of food exemplified the numerous cultures represented at last Friday's International Night in Madison's cafeteria. What started three years ago as an Hispanic festival grew to an international event representing the culture and history, food, music and fashion of Madison's 265 international students.

"We figured this would a wonderful way to celebrate the richness of cultures," said Madison college/career resource specialist Martha Krevere, who, with ESOL department head Linda Norell, organized the evening's festivities.

Students and faculty brought their family and friends to sample food and dance to pop music from around the world. As some dressed in costumes representing their countries, others got their names written in Korean or got henna on their hands.

"The chance for everybody to come together and enjoy the food and have a good time — it's an incredible opportunity we didn't have in my day," said Vienna resident Donald Gonchar, a grandfather who attended the event with his grandson, freshman Donald Shore.

For Krevere, who started the Hispanic festival three years ago, watching students dance to music from different countries made her evening.

"It was very nice," said Krevere.

As for Haidari, although she would graduate next week, she decided to attend Friday evening's festivities after having so much fun at last year's event.

"It's food and fun and seeing everybody one last time," explained Haidari.