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Crossing Borders

Wayside Elementary’s multi-cultural festival celebrates the differences and connections between cultures.

Twins Maya and Bryn Arnold pranced around the Wayside Elementary School gym dressed in saris that their mother Pam borrowed from a coworker. Nearby, third-grader Sophia Bruno had a henna ink drawing of flowers applied to her forearm. Across the room Wayside principal Yong-Mi Kim tried on the traditional headdress of a Brazilian Carnivale dancer.

This was the scene on Friday, March 23 at Wayside Elementary as the school hosted its annual multi-cultural festival. Display tables representing different cultures and regions from around the world lined Wayside’s gym and parents and children flowed from one to the next sampling the food, art, and learning about the customs of each.

“Its good because it’s a chance for them to learn about different countries,” said Pam Arnold of her daughters. Arnold said that Maya and Bryn liked the event because “they like trying new foods.”

There were tables representing India, the Netherlands, Hawaii, Iran, Brazil, and several others.

“This is all organized by our wonderful PTA,” said Susan Zimmerman, vice principal at Wayside. “They organized this all themselves.”

The displays in the gym gave way to Indian, Chinese, Jewish, and Thai food in the cafeteria, followed by a performance from the NIU Martial Arts Academy of Rockville.

The night was capped off by several traditional Indian dances from Wayside fourth-graders Shreya Navile, Aditi Subramanian, Ankita Reddy, Elina Kapoor, and fifth-grader Anamika Tandon. The girls danced in saris to traditional Indian music for twenty minutes before the night’s ceremonies wound down.

— Aaron Stern