By Marian Siljeholm
Since 1996, International Week has been a part of the middle and high school curriculum with the goal of broadening students’ understanding of other cultures.
This year, China, Ireland, and Cambodia, and the Dominican Republic, among others, were included in he curriculum.
In coordination with other language department staff, department head Michelle Magana oversaw the planning and speaker assignments for the week, which incorporated new additions of Guatemala, Liberia, and China.
“It’s been great having student help as well,” Spanish teacher Robert Bilsbury said. “Freshman Charlie Hoff was instrumental in helping with technical aspects.”
Among the speakers were Martha Cox, who presented about Spain, Tom Paradis (Dominican Republic), Greg Caroll (Liberia), and Tamera Burns (Egypt).
Student speakers included seniors Olivia Peterson and Ben White, who spoke about their trip to Ireland, and junior Anny Carr, who presented on Spain.
Bilsbury especially enjoyed the China presentation, which Kevin Heffernan, freshman Anna Heffernan’s dad, presented. He felt the presentation was both “informational” and “innovative” regarding the rapidly growing nation.
The kitchen staff also played a role, offering meals planned to match each day’s theme.
Conceptually, the idea originated under former department head Dr. Nicole Sherf, in an effort to incorporate community into the language department.
Junior Haley Woodman said the International Week assemblies were beneficial.
“The assemblies are a nice break from regular class,” junior Haley Woodman said. “The week gives a new perspective and teaches us to not define another country or culture by our own capitalistic standards.”
The themes for the week depend largely on speaker availability and the cafeteria’s capabilities. This year, Bilsbury was especially pleased with the efforts saying, “The foreign language department is so happy about how well the cafeteria does; they go all out and it’s really amazing.”
Speakers are all voluntary, mostly responding to the school’s online advertisement.
Next year, the Rotary Club will sponsor foreign high school exchange students as speakers.