WMS students get glimpse of the world at culture fair

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington Middle School students had the chance to have a glimpse of 26 different countries during a Friday culture fair in the school's gymnasium.

Worthington Middle School fifth-graders Oriana Chavez and Estrella Bahena serve guacamole during the school's culture fair on Friday morning. (Martina Baca / Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Worthington Middle School students had the chance to have a glimpse of 26 different countries during a Friday culture fair in the school's gymnasium.


The event began at 7 a.m. with more than 100 students setting up booths, bringing food and preparing to share facts about their chosen countries. The WMS Student Council made the event happen with the help of WMS English immersion teacher Kelly Moon.


“Last year we had 18 booths and this year we have 26, so it's really growing,” WMS Student Council President Samara Nordby said.



Among the countries represented at the fair were El Salvador, Venezuela, Mexico, Ireland, South Korea, France, Russia, Canada and Scotland, among others.


Nordby said she was very happy with the event’s end result, noting that she’s proud of the students who decided to take part in the fair.


“I really enjoy students getting involved and seeing them care about things,” Nordby said. “It’s a chance to know something about someone that you didn’t know before. … You get to know about a part of their lives that you don't get to see on a daily basis.”


Moon explained that many students choose their country of origin for their presentation, while others pick where their families are from. Some, meanwhile, simply want to learn more about a particular country.


She noted that one of the event’s goals is to encourage students to be proud of their origins. The fair also aims to teach U.S. natives about other cultures and also discover their own heritage.


“The culture fair is mostly helping ESL students to embrace their own culture and even their own language because it’s an important part of who they are,” Moon said. “Another big part is for people who were born here to learn about the different cultures they have in the school. They also have a rich diversity, as well, in their families, so it’s an opportunity to learn about others and themselves.”


Communication Officer Miles Fischer said the student council met twice a week since January to put the event together. He noted that a lot of planning went into making the fair possible, but said all the long hours of work were worth it.


“We decided to do the culture fair because Worthington is very diverse, so we wanted to honor those cultures,” Fischer said.



Fifth-grader Oriana Chavez was one of the 16 students who were part of the Mexican booth.  Chavez, along with Cristy Banegas and Estrella Bahena, wore colorful traditional Mexican clothes while preparing guacamole.


Chavez’s family is from Mexico, so she wanted to honor their culture. She said she felt closer to her family through the process since she was able to learn more about Mexican traditions.


“It gave me a chance to know more about where my mom is from,” Chavez said.  


Fischer didn’t only help plan the fair but also had a booth highlighting the traditions of the Chippewa Indians. The Native American group is mainly found in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.


“I used to live in northern Minnesota … and we had a lot of Ojibwe people there, so I contacted an Ojibwe teacher that I knew,” Fischer said. “I thought it would be a cool thing to honor them.”


Moon said the culture fair is a way to give students a space to share their own cultures and family traditions with their friends and classmates. She noted that ELS students shouldn't be asked to assimilate to U.S. culture, but should be encouraged to hold on to their own traditions while learning about their new home.

“I think that my favorite part is to see for one day that my students feel that they can shine a little bit and let their true selves come out,” Moon said. “They are sharing their culture and who they are with other people.”



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