Culture shines at International Night

Sophomore Jing Yi Yang teaches senior Dasha Ucko to play the guzheng, a traditional Chinese string instrument.
Sophomore Jing Yi Yang teaches senior Dasha Ucko to play the guzheng, a traditional Chinese string instrument.
Elena Parisi

After several years without an International Night, the event has finally made a reappearance at RM. Richard Montgomery held International Night on Feb. 12 this year. It featured food, performances, cultural information and activities. Over twenty countries were represented.

Many cultural clubs participated in the night, including the South Asian Student Association. “I was with SASA and the South Asian Acapella group representing India. I manned the henna booth and spent the majority of the night doing henna designs on people,” senior Naisha Singireddy said. “The South Asian Acapella group also did a small performance.”

The henna booth was one of the night’s most popular activities. Henna is a blend of powdered leaves that has been used as dye since ancient times. According to the Natural History Museum, it is used in Indian culture to “produce intricate patterns on the bodies of men and women during special occasions.”

At this year’s International Night, the henna patterns ranged from spindling traditional flowers to Spiderman symbols. 

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Outside the cafeteria, parents and students shared homemade cuisine with the community. Junior Naomi Kiawu created a trifold for Sierra Leone, the country her family is from, and made jollof rice. “Jollof rice is something I’ve always eaten. It’s basically rice with tomatoes and other vegetables, depending on how you make it,” Kiawu said.

This event was completely free and provided families with the opportunity to share their heritage with the school community while simultaneously learning about the backgrounds of others. Most booths featured trifolds, explaining the origins of the foods prepared or facts about the country that was represented.

Senior Naisha Singireddy does henna on sophomore Mia Mann. (Paige Kaluzienski)

Numerous students have emphasized the value of this school event and its contributions to fostering an inclusive environment at RM. “I grew up in a very predominantly South Asian community so I always had representation around me [in elementary school],” Singireddy said. “But in middle school and high school, there’s been less and less. I thought this night was really valuable because it’s always exciting to see another side of people.”

This event was followed by African Diaspora Night on Feb. 21, featuring presentations of many African American cultures. “I represented my friend’s country since she couldn’t make it out that night and was part of the group who put on a fashion show,” said junior Madison Carter. “I got to show off cultural wear and think the event was a chance for African American students to feel included in the student body.”

While this year’s International Night was certainly something special, there are always improvements to be made in future years. “I would like to see more advertisement,” Singireddy said. “As a sophomore, we tried to hold this event and it was canceled. This year was comparatively a success, but with even more hype about it, more people would be encouraged to participate and we would get to see more cultures.”


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