By Grace Bernstein
Celebrating diversity in culture and ethnicity is the main goal of Oak Hall’s International Festival, with students spending hours making exhibits or volunteering time to help Oak Hall faculty and staff create a melting pot of nationalities, all for the enjoyment of the community. The festival, on Feb. 28 from 3:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., takes place on the front soccer fields and has numerous booths from countries spanning the world.
This will be the International Festival’s fourth year at Oak Hall, but the idea sprouted from the Lower School 10 years ago. Oak Hall Upper School Spanish teacher, Libby Karow, has spearheaded the festival since its inception, but the Upper School’s International Club is the group of students responsible for the operations of the festival. These students come together in smaller groups to plan and design booths that show their own heritage. In addition, residents of the Gainesville community participate as well, showcasing the diversity in the town. This year’s International Festival welcomes “several businesses, outreach organizations, cultural organizations and student associations from the University of Florida,” Karow said.
Lower School students are performing at the festival, ranging from Irish folkdances to Russian songs. Each booth is meant to be educational, with some having food samplings and activities.
The students behind the scenes of the International Festival:
Allen Tong and Elle Storoe – President and Vice President of the International Club, and oversee the festival.
Grace Bernstein –Education Chair – adds activities which will not only teach the students about the history and geography of the participating countries but will engage them with cutting edge AR technology (QR codes).
Justin Chen – helps exhibitors create inviting displays and activities.
Lauren Cohen – handles all of our public relations, media, and outside advertising.
Mia Currie and Jacob The Losen – organizes all of the food providers for the event, the seating, the lighting, and decorations. This year we will have Soup to Nuts, Falafel King, and Cilantro Tacos along with other culinary treats.
Charlie DePlato – manages the logistics, maps the event, measures and marks the field, inventories all the equipment, manages the installation of everything and runs a crew of volunteers like a skilled Master Sergeant.
Sophia Guico – handles the International Club booth which includes emergency equipment, communications, transportation, staffing the entire event, and keeping track of all those service hours.
Katelyn Kinsell (in addition to ACP students) – runs the arts and crafts area for younger children who will make calligraphy bookmarks, ethnic dolls, and paint their hair interesting colors.
Akhila Nataraj – organizes the stage, lighting, sound systems, DJ, and performances.