Friday, April 24, 2009

The S.S. Multicultural

So I initially intended to post about how irritating I find "multicultural faires" to be.
In my (admittedly) limited experience, multicultural "events" are usually planned and organized by non-"multicultural" people (read: Whiteys, like me).

I'm all for exposing kids to other countries around the world. To their foods, their music, their art and history, their language-- the whole shebang. Really, what harm can come from teaching others about the world around us? And, as we interact more and more with people who were born and raised in cultures different from our own, it helps to understand-- at least academically-- what their beliefs, attitudes, approaches are, generally speaking.

But a "multicultural faire" just sounds so contrived to me. Because it's usually a bunch of white people who have book-studied whatever country they are teaching about. The intentions are good. But how meaningful can the experience really be?

So that's what I was going to write about. But tonight we went to the one at Casey's school. Because Casey asked to go. Because the kindergartners were performing. And I have to admit, it was really well-coordinated and well-run. There was food and activities, artwork and photos. There was music and dance. And although Casey's school's minority population really is, well, in the minority (by far!), it was clear from this evening that many of the "booths" and areas were run by people who really probably do know something about the "culture" they were presenting. So the Afghanistan area had been organized and was being hosted by an Afghan family. Same with the booth about the Philippines. And the booth from Mexico. I don't really know about many of the European booths-- I suspect they were sponsored by families with origins from those countries. But that's better than me hosting, say, a booth on Ethiopia (and there was one- I'm not sure if the family was Ethiopian or not).

So I thought it was cute. And if my only real gripe is that it's called "multicultural" night instead of "Countries of the World" night (or some other equally generic term), I must be looking for something to complain about, right?

Oh-- and the singing (and signing) of "It's a Small World" was pretty cute.

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