My school recently had its annual "Multicultural Festival", which actually turned out to be really nice. Most of the immigrant students in the after school program produced some great displays about their native countries, but it was the work of the kids who barely remembered being out of the U.S. that was particularly interesting. Some of them really got into looking up information and recalling tiny details of their old house or relatives. For these kids, it seemed, food was the most direct connection to their homeland - a Peruvian kid wrote a long, detailed essay about how his family in Lima prepares El Seviche (a typical seafood dish from South America usually spelled Ceviche), and a kid from Honduras drew a nice picture of a rice and beans plate that was his favorite. One kid who left Mexico when he was four was frustrated and a little embarrassed for most of one afternoon because he couldn't remember much about his village, but later talked to me for a long time about how much he loved thinking about the desert and the wide-open spaces in Mexico.
There have been a lot of problems with ethnic and racial tensions in the school recently (more on that in the next post), but it was really nice to see so many of the kids show some pride and emotion when talking about their countries.