The gym at Rolling Hills Middle School was transformed into a mecca of multiculturalism last Friday as more than 500 attendees came out for Buckeye Union School District’s second annual International Festival.
Rolling Hills’ parent and event organizer Cigdem Askin led the charge once more, after first piloting the program at Oak Meadow Elementary last year. “We were so pleased with the results and the feedback we received at Oak Meadow,” she said. “We’ve been planning this year’s International Festival ever since.”
A free family event aimed at promoting friendship among students and families, the festival also celebrates Buckeye Union School District’s multicultural community. Askin, a native of Turkey, hopes to see the festival continue as an annual school district tradition.
Passports were granted upon entry to the gym. A visit to each of the 13 countries’ exhibits (China, India, Ghana, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Phillippines, Paraguay, Romania, Russia, Spain and Turkey) surrounding the perimeter of the gym allowed children to fill in their passports with factual information specific to each country. Prizes were awarded to those who got stamps from every country in their passports. Ethnic food and desserts were also available.
Each cultural booth had impressive, museum-like displays completely run by parents and students.
There were five different cultural performances during the festival, including Irish and Indian dancing, and the final performance was an international fashion show done by Buckeye Union School District students.
Rolling Hills Principal Debra Bowers said she’s excited Rolling Hills got to host the event and is “proud of the opportunity to deepen our understanding of various cultures in our community.”
Bowers was quick to point out that the International Festival could not happen if not for coordinator Askin, calling her, “a tireless champion for the event who pulled together an amazing number of volunteers.”
The event was sponsored by the school district along with the support of Celik Engineering Inc. and Koreanna Market in Rancho Cordova. There were also donations from local businesses and the tourism offices of the represented countries. Askin emphasized the huge effort by parents within the district in also making the event possible.
“Amidst budget cuts we are proud this was a free event, not a fundraiser, held simply to exchange and enjoy cultural knowledge within our community,” she said.