My daughters’ school has a dinner every year that brings together the school community. It is a community of people from all over the world. The multicultural dinner and fashion show is the highlight of the year for many at our school. It is a giant potluck party where everyone brings a cultural dish to share – for the Canadian-born in the group this inevitably means there are some boxes of pizza and the occasional tourtiere (French meat pie for the uneducated). This year there was a special treat – bacon wrapped apple slice with maple syrup. I’m not sure what could be more culturally-Canadian than that beautiful morsel.
I also discovered another dish close to my heart. Interestingly it also involved apple. It was a saurkraut and apple dish – obviously made by a German after my heart. I grew up in Kitchener, Ontario. Kitchener was originally known as Berlin until WWI and the people decided to name it after Lord Kitchener a British Field Marshall and Secretary of State for War at the start of WWI. In spite of that name change, the good people of Kitchener continued to celebrate their German heritage with a wonderful Octoberfest. I’m sure there is beer at said fest, but I was a kid so instead of beer I ate sausages with saurkraut and watched the bagpipers piping their pride in a German heritage. (Hey I am writing about a cultural mash-up here.)
I would tell you about all the other yummy foods by name, but I didn’t write down the info about them. Frankly I never really care what the dishes are called. I am interest in where they are coming from. I usually slap some of everything on my plate and then go back for seconds to try another plate-full of goodness.
The meal also includes entertainment. The kids who are interested can sign up to be in the fashion show. They dress in cultural costume – or just a favourite outfit. They parade on stage and a recording of each kid talking about what they are wearing and why it is significant is played as they strut their stuff. My daughters decided to participate this year and opted to go with Scottish(ish) – In part because they each have a kilt. They do legitimately have Scottish ancestry from both my wife and I although we don’t do anything particularly Scottish around here – other than my periodic bagpipe parades to wake them up. (If only I had a set of bagpipes – that might make it easier to get them up for school.) Clearly these kids come from the school of Scottish fashion that involves bright colours to scare the crap out of the English…
I love the diversity of kids in our school. The school takes advantage of the wealth of cultural and religious practices to get the kids educating one another about their traditions and beliefs. These kids learn from one another and they play with one another regardless of ethnicity. I hope that continues throughout their lives.
It gives me hope to see all of these kids learning together and building their common educational foundation that includes learning from and understanding kids who have a different background from them.
They are the future after all.