By Kelly Shilhanek
As one of the planners and coordinators of International Market Night at Concord International School, which took place on Thursday, May 22nd, I spent most of my time that evening walking around, amazed by how the event came together. Approximately 200 families attended and enjoyed a meal, took home produce, and had the opportunity to enjoy many of the activities that centered on food, gardening, health and wellness, and multiculturalism. Rather than give a general overview of the event, I thought I would describe a few experiences that I took away from the evening:
The nutty aroma of arroz y frijoles refritos wafting through the air, coaxing early onlookers into the bright light of the cafeteria.
Nervous students dressed neatly in pressed white shirts, black pants, botas y sombreros fidgeting before they perform.
Young girls, faces glowing with blush, radiating poise and confidence as they dance together across the stage.
Families scrunched into small cafeteria benches, plates filled with the world—fresh banh mi sitting side by side with tangy injera, soaking up the peanut sauce of the spring rolls—all of it being consumed enthusiastically by hungry fingers and excited mouths.
These were my favorite moments— when I got to see students transform into proud individuals through their performances, demonstrating passion and hard work and cooperation. Of course, the smell of the delicious food also imprinted itself into my brain. There were so many wonderful activities and opportunities at International Market Night besides the ones I mentioned—students with their families choosing between collards, cabbage, kiwis, and other fresh veggies to take home; volunteers instructing onlookers how to make salsa; a cilantro-planting station; making art using bicycle sprockets; and high school students wowing students through their lion dance performance, simultaneously scaring children into the arms of their siblings and enticing them to provoke the lion performers.
This event is important for our program because it gives our students’ families access (for one night) to fresh and healthy food. However, I think that creating space to celebrate some of the traditions that are part of our students’ cultures is equally valuable, and potentially more transformative. I look forward to International Market Nights in the future and hope that our nutrition team can continue to instill multicultural learning into our teaching.