Stu­dents SAIL through in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­val

Maryland Independent - - Front Page -

El­lie Karimi, a for­mer stu­dent at Mau­rice J. McDonough High School in Pom­fret, can’t pick a fa­vorite coun­try among those rep­re­sented at a fes­ti­val held by the school’s In­ter­na­tional Club.

A na­tive of Iran, Karimi has to nar­row down her top picks by con­ti­nent in­stead. In Europe, she is par­tial to Spain. In South Amer­ica it’s Mexico, then Gu­atemala, but then there’s El Sal­vador, too. For­get about Africa — “I can’t de­cide,” Karimi said. “I like all of it.”

McDonough houses Sec­ondary Academy of In­ter­na­tional Lan­guages (SAIL), a re­gion­al­ized pro­gram for sec­ondary English Lan­guage Learn­ers (ELL) which helps stu­dents ad­vance aca­dem­i­cally and so­cially while in­creas­ing English pro­fi­ciency. How­ever, the In­ter­na­tional Club is open to any stu­dent who wants to con­nect and build bridges among the cul­tures rep­re­sented at McDonough.

More than 20 coun­tries and re­gions were show­cased at the fair in­clud­ing Colom­bia, Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic, El Sal­vador, Eritrea, Fin­land, Gam­bia, Gu­atemala, Guyana, Hon­duras, Iran, Italy, the Ivory Coast, Ja­maica, Mali, Nige­ria, Pak­istan, Pan-African, Peru, Philip­pines, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Spain, Rus­sia, Uzbek­istan and Venezuela.

“Ev­ery­one has a back­ground. And if we un­der­stand that bet­ter, we’re able to see we’re to­gether,” ju­nior Phillip Aguilar said. “We don’t just ex­ist in a box. Learn­ing about other cul­tures makes us a lot more tol­er­ant.”

McDonough ju­nior Chris­tiana Pan­gratie moved to Amer­ica from Ro­ma­nia five months ago. Mov­ing from a big city to the more pas­toral sub­urbs has been an ad­just­ment, but she’s been able to meet new friends by join­ing the In­ter­na­tional Club. “You meet new peo­ple who are open minded,” she said. “And I want to know about other peo­ple’s cul­tures.”

Je­mari Hardy, a ju­nior at McDonough vis­ited the fes­ti­val, where guests were able to sam­ple foods from dif­fer­ent coun­tries, visit dis­plays and talk to their peers about their na­tive land.

“We are a di­verse school, it’s more than black and white,” Hardy said. “I love this event so much.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Mau­rice J. McDonough High School teacher Karena Ben­nett, left, speaks with El­lie Karimi, a for­mer stu­dent at the school who helped start the In­ter­na­tional Club. Karmini, a na­tive of Iran, helped or­ga­nize the fes­ti­val the club holds to in­tro­duce var­i­ous cul­tures to McDonough stu­dents and staff.

Quynh Tran, a se­nior at Mau­rice J. McDonough High School, right, talks about Viet­nam with tech­nol­ogy teacher David Crisci dur­ing a fes­ti­val hosted by the school’s In­ter­na­tional Club.

Sym­ney Cameron, a Mau­rice J. McDonough High School ju­nior, left, learns more about Rus­sia from ju­niors Kyle Olenko and Natalia The­ri­ault dur­ing the In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val at the school.

Chris­tiana Pan­gratie, a na­tive of Ro­ma­nia and a ju­nior at Mau­rice J. McDonough High School, left, talks about her home coun­try with McDonough ju­nior Kayla Craig dur­ing a fes­ti­val hosted by the school’s In­ter­na­tional Club.

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