The many countries of the world were represented last Thursday as the William H. Ohrenberger School hosted its annual International Night. More than 500 students, family, teachers, and members of the community sampled Greek cookies, Japanese sushi, and countless other delicacies.
Visitors, many of the them resplendent in traditional clothing, were entertained by Irish step dancers, Nigerian games, and Guatamalan music. A goldfish swam in a bowl at the Iran display. Meanwhile, students carried “passports” and collected stamps and interesting facts from more than twenty tables showcasing the amazing diversity of the school. The halls were covered top to bottom with posters made by the students to celebrate their heritages.
Technology instructor Michael Galvin was on hand, taking photos. He was also responsible for making a two and half hour long video, in which he interviewed every one of the more than 700 students in the school. “Every student got to stand in front of the camera and get some public speaking experience. It was fun hearing what they had to say,” he said. Then he added, “It’s a great night. This is what it’s all about.”
International night began more than 10 years ago, when teacher Haydee Yeskutis wanted to engage with non-English speaking students of the school. Vice Principal Naomi Krakow said, “It’s our favorite night of the year. If you look at our school, it’s really a representation of the City of Boston. Some schools in Boston aren’t like that, but we really are diverse. We get to show off some of the great things we have at the school.” Now that Ms. Yeskutis is at the Beethoven School, this year’s program was organized by teachers Ms. Colonette and Ms. Noonan.
Ms. Noonan said, “It’s a great night because students get to bring their families to the school for something other than academics, and to celebrate the community.”
Ms. Colonette added, “We had help from the parents, and the teachers also have a big part in this, because they also set up tables to represent the countries they’re from.”
More than 20 countries were represented. At the Greece table, Despina Stavros was participating in her fourth International Night. Nearby, Rachael Acker hosted the Malaysia table, while Carla Eigen, in German garb, taught about the country through the five senses. She decided to “go all out” this year, she said.
At the Japan table, students learned how to make origami cranes. Parent coordinator and volunteer Silvina Mizrahi, said, “Everyone was willing to work as a team. We are one school and all different. Everyone shines.”
And everyone agreed that the best part of the event was in the cafeteria. Parents had brought over a hundred different foods celebrating their native countries and heritages. People lined up by the hundreds to sample Jamaican patties, Haitian black rice, Chinese noodles, Italian stuffed shells, and many other dishes. A huge array of desserts disappeared quickly.
District 5 City Councilor Robert Consalvo attended. He said he was there “supporting the students, supporting the community. And as a parent of two children in the Boston Public Schools, continuing to support the BPS community.”
Ms. Colonette summed up the night by saying, “It’s bringing everyone together to enjoy music, food, displays, and … to praise diversity.”