East­ern Tech stu­dents cel­e­brate di­ver­sity with mul­ti­cul­tural event

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

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.”

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