In Thornwood… EF Academy Presents a Tapestry of Cultures

On April 10th a tapestry of cultures were strung together with enthusiasm and heart. While this describes the ethos of EF Academy: International Boarding School on a daily basis, this description is always not only said, but truly felt, during our school’s annual culture fair.

Each year, our international students and faculty invite each other to discover the wonders of their individual cultures by turning each classroom into a miniature version of their countries. This year, not only did we invite each other into our worlds, but we opened our doors to Columbus Elementary School’s third grade class.
EF Academy’s culture fair club, led by Spanish Teacher Nadia Gomez, spent weeks envisioning and creating our global microcosm. On the morning of the culture fair, vibrant banners were strung between classrooms, dividing the hallways into their respective continents. Over twenty countries were represented at this year’s fair, including but not limited to Iran, Pakistan, Taiwan, Mexico, the United States, Nigeria, Brazil, Venezuela, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Kazakhstan, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Albania, Macedonia, Russia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India and Vietnam.
Within each room, students were adorned in the traditional dress of their home countries. Students decorated their rooms with their countries’ flags, and even drew their nations’ symbols on their cheeks, ready to greet our visitors.
When Columbus’ third grade class entered EF Academy’s halls, they were greeted by an international welcoming community who introduced them to the multicultural wonders of our school by giving them their own “passports.” The students eagerly received an array of international stamps on their passports so that they could tell their friends and families that they visited over twenty nations in a few all-too-short hours.
On their journey through EF Academy’s culture fair, students were greeted by origami cranes that were tied to the ceiling of Vietnam’s room, as if they were proudly flying above the visitors. Russia set up their chess sets, ready to compete in a daring game of pawn versus knight. Our Nigerian students taught our visitors how to bow, and as they left Nigeria and headed toward Hong Kong, they learned how to say “hi” and “bye” in Cantonese as they bowed.
In each room that the third grade students visited, they participated in the cultural festivities, especially the games. Not only did the third grade students have fun playing games and watching dances from each nation, but they learned some of the customs and languages of our diverse student body.
One of the tour guides, Serena, led a group of special needs students who seemed to smile in each and every room. Elisabeth, another of our tour guides, reflected on the enjoyment of the students, but also on the importance of having local student visitors see our culture fair. From this day, she not only realized the multiculturalism of EF Academy, but she understood the importance of being a global citizen.
While EF Academy’s rigorous IGCSE & IB [International General Certificate of Secondary Education & International Baccalaureate] programs emphasize the significance of being global learners, our annual Culture Fair is a reminder to our students, faculty, staff and visitors, that we are never too young or too old to learn the importance of being internationally-minded.

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About the Author: Jenna Marcus