Food for thought: Eastern students share an international meal

Eastern’s Cultural Diversity Dinner/ Karaoke night exposed students got students chewing on the idea of diversity.

Senior Elena Bitman (in pink) serves up a variety of food to sophomores Mei Liu (in blue) and Alyssa Alday (in grey). Eastern’s American Cultures Club hosted a Cultural Diversity Dinner/Karaoke night on Wednesday, May 23 in the school’s lobby.

By: KELLY FLYNN

The Sun

On Wednesday, May 23, in a lobby adorned with international flags, a group of Eastern Regional High School students gathered to share a meal. Over guacamole, egg rolls and a variety of other dishes, students learned about what different cultures bring to the table.

Raquel Fannon, advisor to the American Cultures Club, said Eastern’s Cultural Diversity Dinner/Karaoke night started around five years ago and has since become an annual event. At one point, Eastern had a variety of individual cultural clubs such as the Jewish American Club and the African American Club, but due to budget constraints, the clubs merged into the American Cultures Club, and the multicultural dinner has taken place as the club’s culminating event at the end of each school year ever since.

“The goal for us is to kind of expose and foster tolerance of different cultures,” Fannon said. “We have such a variety here at Eastern.”

Fannon said the club solicits donations from local restaurants and some students bring in homemade dishes to share a piece of their heritage with their fellow club members. She said they decided to add karaoke to the event, and between the food and music, the event has consistently been a hit.

Junior Angelina Le served her fellow Eastern students eggrolls with a warm smile on Wednesday night. She said in her eyes, Eastern is a diverse school, and coming together over food to celebrate those differences is a great way to bond students together.

“If we get to try a little bit of everyone’s culture and what they bring to the table, it’s just a good way to open new relations and to see different parts of the world without ever leaving,” Le said.

Le said students need to learn tolerance and different perspectives, and American Cultures Club is a place to do just that.

Within the club, students socialize with students from different backgrounds and embark on field trips intended to expand their international perspectives. Fannon said this last year, the club travelled to the United Nations and Ellis Island.

Senior Vidhi Shah said American Cultures Club, or Cultural Diversity Club as some members refer to it, teaches students that it’s important to take pride and express your cultural identity. She said this message is especially relevant for today’s students.

“At the moment, we have like a society where we’re beginning to kind of assimilate into the dominant culture, and we don’t express or accept some other cultures, their beliefs or traditions,” Shah said.

Fannon said with the racial tension in today’s world, the club is a place to stress what makes everyone the same while also celebrating what makes them different. She said the American Cultures Club is a fantastic group of students who take great pride in their cultural identities.

Having been born in Cuba and raised in Puerto Rico, Fannon said she knows firsthand about the pressure to fit in.

“They want to belong. They don’t want to stand out,” Fannon said. “Now is the time when we have to show our pride.”

For Gabriela Gutierrez, Wednesday night’s dinner sent an important message to Eastern at large.

“It shows the school that we’re all united as different cultures, all together,” Gutierrez said.