Oak Knoll Culture Festival: Around the World in 120 Minutes

From Trinidad and Tobago to Ukraine. From Pakistan to Ghana. From Italy to Columbia. Attendees at the two-hour Oak Knoll Culture Fair on Friday evening, April 12, 2024, experienced the flavors, sounds, and sights of the many cultures of the globe represented by Oak Knoll community members. There were informational exhibits, artifacts, ethnic dishes, and performances aplenty, and the excitement and cultural pride exhibited throughout the evening are sure to make this event a beloved annual experience.

“Our son motivated us to participate,” said Jennie Cadet, the mother of a Haitian American student in the Lower School. “He’s very proud of his culture and being both Haitian and American. He loves Haitian food. So, when he brought home the flyer for the event, we told him, of course, we’re going to attend.” The Cadet family offered an array of Haitian baked sweets and a favorite Haitian soda pop. They took the time to create a short handout containing exciting facts regarding the island and culture.

“We are so excited to share this evening with all of you as we celebrate diversity and promote cultural understanding within our school community,” stated Melissa Miller, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice, during her welcome remarks. “Through engaging displays and performances, we hope to foster a sense of unity and appreciation for our school’s rich tapestry of cultures. We are grateful for the contributions so many of you have provided to help make this event a memorable and enriching experience for everyone involved.”

The energy and positivity in the room were palpable as families, often dressed in ethnic clothing, shared their stories and mingled about the room. Upper School History teacher John Petito shared his Italian heritage on the turf field by offering Bocce Ball lessons to excited young attendees.

Live entertainment featured songs and dancing by Viva Flamenco, dancers from the Dominican Republic sponsored by the Szabo family, and Ecuadorian dancing performed by the Burbano Family.

“The most exciting thing for me is the music,” said Nanayaa Y. ’33. “It’s exciting to hear music from other cultures.”

We thank the DEIJ team at Oak Knoll, the dozens of families that mounted exhibits, and those who attended simply to experience a trip around the world in 120 minutes.