On March 18th, St Michael’s School held its annual Cultural Appreciation Day – a day to celebrate multiculturalism within the student body. Every student was invited to wear or bring something from their own culture, whether this was a football shirt, flag, or cultural dress, and then have the opportunity to discuss it within their classes.
The majority of the school participated in this event and there was a real wide variety present – both culturally and the extent to which this was shown. Throughout the day, I saw many football shirts (such as from myself) as well as people bringing in samples of their country’s traditional food or using face paint for flags and symbols. It was truly amazing to see the extent of pride that people had in their cultures, shown by the effort on show in people’s outfits or makeup. For one day, the school was illuminated with colour and curiosity as people celebrated and expressed their culture to those around them, and I for one can say that I learnt a lot about the wide variety of places that my classmates are from, as well as some new knowledge about these locations.
In lessons, teachers would share parts of their culture with the class, and the students had discussions and shared stories from their countries for others to hear – for example, in one lesson we listened to some traditional Italian folk music and in another, heard the stories about a teacher’s upbringing in Poland. At lunch, the hall was transformed into a celebration of the cultural diversity of St Michael’s: there was an array of food available from jollof rice to soda bread. There were performances of dance and song, and there was an environment of sharing culture and different experiences with one another that everyone enjoyed. The atmosphere was lively and you could really feel that people were being enriched and felt more educated about their citizenship within the world.
I spoke to Eloise, who was involved in running the cultural lunchtime events about what the benefits of this day were: “I think it’s a very educational experience, especially because we don’t see much of it in our regular education. It started because many people were aware that St Michael’s was a diverse community, and yet we didn’t ever get to truly represent and appreciate these different cultures. Even though we study things like history or geography, we never really learn about how these cultures are expressed by a place’s people or about places in the world that don’t get a lot of attention on the specification. So I think that this is a really good thing because everyone is learning lots, and people are excited to show their culture to more people and feel proud of where their families are from.”
She went on to recommend that other schools get involved in events like this: “I think it would be a really good thing if more schools started doing cultural days, because it’s a really good way to make pupils more respectful of each other and learn more about the people they go to school with everyday. It’s also a good way to brighten up the place for the day, and make everyone feel excited and happy to be in school and share things with the people around them that they normally wouldn’t,”
Overall, St Michael’s 2022 Cultural Appreciation Day has been a massive success. With almost the entire student body getting involved, it’s been a way to bring everyone together and it seems that more has been learnt about everyone’s own cultural experiences than could ever be taught in the classroom. It’s been a great way to relax with food and music and talking, so I think it’s safe to say that this is a tradition that will continue long into the future.