by Smriti Vijay (’25) | February 3, 2023
From January 23 to January 27, Saint Francis hosted its first-ever Multicultural Week. Several affinity groups organized activities to share their cultural traditions. Each day featured different themes, which encouraged students to wear cultural dress to school. Both students and educators were invited to participate in and celebrate this fun-filled week.
The week began with presentations and samples of diverse cultural meals. Affinity groups planned and gathered traditional foods to share with students and faculty, such as falafel sandwiches, tamales, and pork baos. South Asian Student Association (SASA) board member Devansh Malik (’25) elaborated on the planning process, “We got together and discussed what desserts and snacks are widely associated with India, and from there we decided on samosas.” During a reflection on the lunch event, Malik said he was impressed by the “people from different cultures interested in snacks from other cultures that weren’t theirs.”
On Tuesday, the Sobrato Commons was filled with tables of arts and crafts. Affinity groups set up culture-specific crafts available to everyone, including origami diyas from SASA and Ramadan lanterns from the Muslim Student Association (MSA). MSA board member Salma Afify (’25) commented on the activity: “Back in the day, because we could only break our [Ramadan] fast during night time, they would be used to light up the night, but now they are used more as decoration because now we have electricity.”
The exciting arts and crafts were followed by a day featuring desserts from affinity groups, during which the Commons Porch was packed with students eager to try some of the diverse desserts. The lineup of sweets included babka, a sweet braided bread from the Jewish Student Association (JSA), cream puffs from the Asian Student Association (ASA), and churros from the Latinx/Hispanic Student Union (LHSU).
LHSU member Caterina Alzati-Saldana (’25) said that the affinity group chose churros for the day of diverse desserts because of their rich history: “Churros originated in Spain and Portugal, but with the years and cultural exchange they made their way to Mexico [where] they became a dessert staple for the country.”
Their choice was clearly successful, as the LHSU dessert booth ran out of churros fairly quickly. Alzati-Saldana spoke of the experience: “I wasn’t expecting to sell out within 12 minutes… Everyone was crowding over our table, with their plates, giving their tickets to us.” For anyone who missed out, Alzati-Saldana recommended trying the dessert with chocolate or cajeta, thickened caramel made of goat’s milk.
On Thursday, Saint Francis students attended the annual Interfaith Prayer Service in their cultural garments, highlighting the diversity of the student body. Reflecting on the experience, Sanjana Srikanth (’24) said, “I felt proud to represent my culture in my clothes and also identify with those dressed up around me. It was amazing to be able to see the diversity of cultures in our school through peoples’ clothes.”
Last but not least, the week came to a close with dancing in the Quad. Dances presented included samba, an energetic dance of Afro-Brazilian origin; tinikling, a traditional Philippine folk dance; and Bollywood dance, an Indian style made popular by famous Bollywood movies.
Overall, Saint Francis’s first-ever Multicultural Week was a success. The week of fun activities pleased both the students and educators as they learned more about the diverse cultures that exist at Saint Francis. The positive impacts from the week makes the coming of next year’s Multicultural Week all the more exciting.
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