Eastern Tech students celebrate diversity with multicultural event
Eastern Technical High School students visited 23 countries last week. In the school’s gymnasium on February 16 and 17, over 60 students highlighted their heritage and histories with displays, live performances, music, food, costumes, and more, during a cultural celebration and trip around the world right here in Essex.
The event, in its fourth year, is the creation of Kevin
Applegate, the Social Studies Department Chair at Eastern, who calls the event “Culture Coalescence”. The dictionary defines “coalescence as “to grow together or into one body”, which is representative of the unique variety of backgrounds and lifestyles that come together within the Eastern Tech student body.
As a teacher, Applegate has seen Eastern Tech’s diverse population for himself and knew that each student had their own story to tell.
“It’s to provide an opportunity for the kids to become the teacher, I want to create a venue for them to explain their culture to others,” he said.
The students were encouraged to provide information on prominent figures in their history, current policies, social and political issues facing the country, religious demographics, and other imperative topics.
Applegate got the idea for the event one day while he was teaching his class about Hinduism. He realized that some of the students in his class were Hindu and that they were the ones who should be leading the class.
“I thought ‘why not have our Hindu students teach us about Hinduism?’, so that was the general idea.”
Every social studies class set aside 20 minutes to have their student visit the displays. Every ETHS student, all 1,200 of them, got a chance to see the world without ever leaving the school’s auditorium.
Eastern Tech has a significant Indian and Native American population so those cultures were wellrepresented this year.
Liberia, the Philippines, Germany, Palestine, Vietnam and many more were also represented. One student did a presentation on Somalia, which has been in news recently after being mentioned in President Trump’s recent executive order halting immigration from certain countries. Applegate said that the event this year had particularly good timing. In a tense political climate where the spotlight has been put on the role of immigrants in America, the event can shed some light on the positive aspects on multiculturalism, he explained.
“No matter how you feel politically, we have a diverse population here at Eastern Tech. We have a lot of first and second immigrants and they really do take their education seriously and they are dedicated students. We’re happy to have them.”