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Academy's students, parents celebrate diversity through food, entertainment
Lakeview Academy’s Brannon Browner, center, and other fifth-graders perform a traditional Indian Dandiya dance during Thursday evening’s intercultural dinner at the Lower School gym. The event featured food and entertainment from around the world.

More than 300 Lakeview Academy students, family and staff were treated to an intercultural culinary celebration Thursday night.

The Flavors of the World event was the school’s second successful attempt to link the cultural heritages of its students to the community through food and entertainment.

About 30 different meals were served, including traditional fare from the Middle East, Russia and Africa and were doled out by faculty and staff who commandeered the school cafeteria.

Parents volunteered time to cook the food and manned tables in the school gym featuring different countries.

Lamis Hadda moved from Syria to the U.S. more than eight years ago.

She overlooked a table covered in traditional wares from both countries, including candies and local crafts.

“I think we are so alike but still we are different,” said Hadda, whose son is a first-grader at the academy. “We want to raise (our children) as open-minded people.”

Hadda participates in the school’s Intercultural Village committee, the group of parents and staff formed three years ago to embrace the some 20-plus cultures represented in the school and sponsor of the event.

Haiti’s table was topped with original paintings brought from the country by Shima St. Germain’s family after a visit eight years ago, she said.

The school has raised more than $600 in support of Haiti since last month’s earthquake. But there is more to Haitians than the images shown on TV, she said.

“We have all this culture in our country that people don’t pay a lot of attention to because of other news,” said St. Germain, a junior.

Even the U.S. was represented, with a display of candies that originated in the country and food including hot dogs, carrot cake and oatmeal cookies.

“Candy’s a good thing to be known for,” said fifth-grader Gordon Cain.

Attendance was up from last year’s event and the program will expand, said committee chairman Cristian Miguez, who also teaches Spanish.

“These families feel welcome and feel integrated into our community,” he said.

“We want to raise awareness of the differences in our students.”

Students from the lower, middle and high schools performed throughout the night, donning authentic costumes and presented routines practiced during school.

Whether they sang, danced or shyly strummed the electric guitar, the audience rewarded each act with hearty applause.

“We feel like we’re only family all together,” Hadda said.

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