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Leland Cultural Fair: Celebrating the school’s diversity

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

By Gilina Voon Dec. 15, 2022

At local elementary schools, multicultural fairs are an annual, highly-anticipated tradition. Taking feedback from students who enjoyed the event in their childhoods, the Associated Student Body (ASB) hosted the first ever Leland Cultural Fair on Nov. 17 during lunch.


Upon leaving their fourth period classrooms, students found the quad lined with 11 booths representing different countries including Japan, the Philippines, Mexico, Turkey and Ukraine. At each booth, student representatives set up trifolds to highlight interesting facts about their cultural heritages and presented trays of food to share. The sweet aroma of food filled the air and the quad was packed with hundreds of students exploring different booths, with music from different countries playing in the background.


Kayla Choi Art

At the Japan booth, students learned about the country’s unique customs and sampled popular Japanese snacks such as Pocky and Hi-Chews. The representatives of the booth, Senior Kaily Yoshioka-Meonske and Sophomore Bradley Yoshioka-Meonske, presented a book about San Jose’s Japantown and koinobori—windsocks flown in Japan to celebrate Children’s Day. Large plates of puto and kutsinta, different types of steamed rice cake, covered the Philippines table.


“The atmosphere was high-spirited as everyone enjoyed exploring the various booths. I tried different foods and heard songs I was unfamiliar with; I loved all of the snacks and music, especially the Mexican song La Chona,” Freshman Avni Iyer said.

The Mexico booth stood out to many students. Through the trifold, students learned about different forms of Mexican dance and holidays such as the Day of the Dead. The representatives wore traditional clothing including sombreros and folklórico costumes. On the side, Senior Jasmine Garcia danced to upbeat Mexican music.


“I was performing folklórico dance, which originated from Jalisco, Mexico and represents Mexico’s beauty through colorful costumes. When dancing, every aspect of the outfit radiates happiness. The song I danced to, Jarabe Tapatío, or the Mexican Hat Dance, is well-known in Mexican culture,” Garcia said.

The Cultural Fair required extensive planning and collaboration between ASB and the students. Having never hosted a cultural fair before, ASB drew inspiration from nearby elementary schools. For example, the trifolds at each stall were inspired by the booths at Graystone Elementary’s multicultural fair. However, unlike Graystone, ASB opted to hold the event during lunch so that more students had the opportunity to attend.


After working out all the logistics, ASB recruited students from various cultures to lead the booths by posting advertisements across campus and sharing information on the school Instagram account. Overall, many enjoyed the event—especially the free food offered. Students appreciated the opportunity to celebrate their diverse heritages, expressing that the event fostered greater understanding and acceptance.


“A cultural fair is extremely important in a school as diverse as ours; being able to learn about cultures different from our own is an invaluable experience. We live in a world where our differences can tear us apart, but the Cultural Fair united our student community,” Yoshioka-Meonske said.

ASB plans to turn the Cultural Fair into a yearly tradition. They hope to expand interest, scale and representation by adding booths and organizing several performances, encouraging students to explore other cultures, cuisines and traditions.

 

About the Contributors

Gilina Voon

Staff Writer/ Photographer


Gilina Voon is a junior at Leland High School and is a writer and photographer for The Charger Account. She loves to run with her friends, cuddle with her dog, and travel/explore the world.









Kayla Choi

Artist


Kayla Choi is a junior at Leland and an artist for journalism. She enjoys listening to music, drawing and sleeping.

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