On May 29th, Hangzhou Wahaha International School (WIS) launched its first 2023国际日, an annual cultural event that celebrates the vibrancy and rich cultural diversity within the WIS community and beyond, which has over two hundred students and faculties from twenty-seven countries around the world.
Twenty-seven students, each carrying a country flag representing their country of origin, marched into the playground with pride and audiences’ cheering. The flag ceremony unveiled International Day with a powerful message of what WIS stands for – embrace diversity and encourage their students and faculty to be proud of their own unique identities.
Students and their families engaged through music performances, carnival games, Chinese crafts, and food prepared by teachers and parents who have cultural heritages from South Africa, Algeria, India, and many more.
The aroma of the South African Braai quickly attracted a long queue, while Ms. Chané and Corné, who teach Grade 3 at WIS, were in charge of the booth, chopped onions, and herbs paired with the freshly cooked meat on the grill.
A few steps away, Manisha and Ishita, whose kids are WIS students, served Pav Bhaji. This dish is significant to Northern Indian Cuisine, with rose water glistening with vibrant pink color.
Manisha scooped a generous ladle of vegetable curry with a soft bread roll on the side while introducing the dish to everyone who walked past the booth. The experience resembled inviting people to their homes while chatting over a plate of food prepared meticulously by the host.
The event represents what the school is trying to build – an inclusive and global school that embraces all cultures.
“The word international is often overused without a deep reflection in the educational context, and at our school, we try to bridge this by creating space and opportunities for relationship-building and mutual learning, ” said Robert Mullins, the executive principal of WIS.
These activities connect students and their loved ones by cooking together and introducing them to their friends at school.
Naziha is a parent who contributed to the event by bringing Algerian dishes such as Tagine made with chicken stewed to the softness that can be easily torn up by forks and couscous served with a rich tomato broth with chickpeas. “This was such a meaningful experience for me because I got to cook foods rooted in our culture with the kids and share them with everyone at school,” said Naziha while handing out soft dates and almond bliss balls to people.
Amy Pierce, a librarian who has been working with WIS for five years, also one of the initiators of the event, said that the International Day aims to celebrate students’ cultural identities while encouraging them to share with their classmates at school. “Students and families can look forward to mingling with each other in this friendly and welcoming environment,” said Amy.
Dunk tank (a machine commonly seen at fairs involving a ball-throwing activity and dunking a person into the water), horseback riding, and flight simulator games provide students, faculty, and parents with activities to join together to have a great time. In addition, partners of the WIS, such as the Art Space for Kids and Disabled People Service House, an organization in Hangzhou’s Shangcheng District that empowers persons with disabilities by integrating them into the catering industry, also joined the event.
WIS aspires to prepare students to be leaders who are empathetic, responsible, and open-minded. In addition, WIS aims to break down the barriers that prevent individuals from different cultures and backgrounds from interacting in a global political climate that is becoming more divisive and polarized. International Day is a small yet significant initiative that increases awareness that we live in a multicultural community.
Author: Hangzhoufeel Zhouyue