Emerson/DaVinci’s International Day Brings Hope and Inclusion in Times of Hate

Max Davis-Housefield

December 1, 2019

EMERSON/DAVINCI: Students flocked to Emerson/DaVinci’s outdoor commons on Friday, November 22 to celebrate countries from around the world during International Day. Multiple countries were represented through informational booths and with traditional costumes. These countries included the African country of Eritrea, Italy, Japan, Mexico, China, and Scotland. Students visited the informational booths receiving stamps for their passports and prizes upon completion of their world tour.

Many of the booths fully immersed the audience in other cultures through the sounds, sights, tastes, and smells of the country they represented. At the booth for Eritrea, ASB president Yusuf Abdelnur poured honey on traditional Eritrean bread. Long lines formed behind his booth to sample the local cuisine and learn about Eritrean history and culture from a trifold that the president had constructed. A booth representing Italy had Biscotti available to try, and a booth for Mexico had traditional Mexican candies. The Japan booth had traditional games and books, and the Mandarin 1 class had set up a booth for China with interactive activities and elaborate costumes.

Music from around the globe echoed off the walls as Emerson Principal, Mr. Thomsen, doubled as the DJ. When there was a pause in the music, I asked him some questions about International Day. Clad in a kilt and other traditional Scottish garments, Mr. Thomsen told me that this was the first International day in a long time. Over a decade ago, International Day was an annual event with double the countries represented and greater attendance. “We would like to make it an annual event [again] … plans are to make it bigger as time goes on,” Mr. Thomsen told me. And as to why the event was reintroduced: “We-Leadership and the [planning] group-wanted a chance to celebrate international cultures because there are so many in this region and we should be celebrating them everyday. It’s just a great way to highlight that.” He was very proud of the “students [who] took over and planned this. It's great to see them representing the cultures they are learning about.” This event struck me as a powerful antidote to the hate, racism, and bigotry so common in today’s world. I asked Mr. Thomsen if he felt that the message the event was sending was timely and relevant in today’s world. “I do,” he responded. “The world needs some celebration, some love, and some hope in a big way.”

If students can learn about, and accept, other cultures at a young age, maybe the world of the future will be in better hands than the world of today. The time it took students to plan and prepare for this event stands with other activism students have been a part of, the Gun Violence Walk Out and the Davis Youth Climate Strike, as an example of the kind of leadership we can look forward to seeing in the future. But for now, we have to keep the hope for a better tomorrow alive today.