Unity in Diversity: Our Annual International Festival for All Families

April 09, 2024

On March 22, 2024, our school community came together once again to celebrate a cherished tradition.

The annual International Festival for All Families (IFF) is not just an event; it's a celebration of the diverse backgrounds and traditions that make up our global family. I will never forget taking a moment close to the end of the evening to look around and take it all in. It was then that Señor Sommers, Spanish teacher with 28 years of service to MA, approached me, saying, "This is who we are—this is the true Moravian." His words resonated deeply, encapsulating the essence of our community and the spirit of unity that filled the air.


Every year, families come together to share a piece of their heritage through the universal language of food. From savory dishes to sweet delicacies, each offering represents a unique culinary journey from across the globe. But the IFF was more than just a culinary adventure. It was a celebration of multiculturalism in its truest sense. Learning tables adorned the campus, offering glimpses into the artistry and traditions of different cultures. Guests could immerse themselves in the intricate designs of henna art, sway to the rhythms of Indian dancing, learn the delicate craft of Ukrainian flower making, or try their hand at Chinese letter writing.

What made this event truly special was the spirit of inclusion and belonging that permeated every corner of the campus. This year, we were proud to announce that the IFF was hosted and sponsored by the newly minted DEIJB Board Committee, chaired by Fatima Jaffer. Former co-leader of the Justice Belonging & Love Committee, Fatima brought a wealth of experience and a passion for inclusion to the table. The members of the JBL Committee, now part of the board committee, brought with them a dedication to fostering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion within our school community. The transition of the IFF under the umbrella of the DEIJB Board Committee marked a significant milestone in our journey towards greater unity and understanding, as the committee has parents from all three campuses represented across all grade levels. The members who serve on the board committee for diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging are: Fatima Jaffer (Chair), Kellie Green, Nancy Monestime-Williams, Edith Gutierrez-Hawbaker, Ingrid Alvarez Russell, Janicca Covington, Sima Hodavance, Challon Perry, and Tyrone Russell


As we gathered around the table to share in the bounty of our collective heritage, we were reminded of the profound wisdom shared by one of my favorite practitioners in the field of collective wellbeing,  Dr. Zack Bush. In his study on centenarians, Dr. Bush noted that one of the key factors contributing to their longevity was the practice of keeping a chair open and ready at their dining room table, always welcoming new faces and stories into their lives. So, attending IFF is also a way to increase your longevity! Maybe we should change our event's name to “Live to 100+ by way of community and connection”? 


In a world often divided by differences, events like the IFF serve as a powerful reminder of the ties that bound us together. On that Friday evening, on the Merle-Smith Campus, amidst the laughter and chatter of families from every corner of the globe, we found a glimpse of the world as it could be – vibrant, diverse, and united in love. And as we took our place at the table, we were reminded that the true beauty of humanity lay in our willingness to embrace each other, just as we were. Dr. Zach Bush encourages the idea of community and gathering around food as a means of fostering social connections, emotional well-being, and cultural preservation. Gathering around food is not only about nourishing our bodies but also about nourishing our souls and strengthening bonds with others. I can’t wait to partner with the DEIJB Board Committee to host the next IFF on the Swain Campus! 


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