The fair capped off a week of cross-cultural collaboration and creative problem-solving as 41 students from nine countries and 13 Collegiate seniors worked to develop innovative solutions to specific environmental issues facing their nations. Earlier in the day, the international students visited classrooms to share stories about their cultures with JK-12th Grade classes and participated in a student-led Civil Discourse Forum about the climate crisis as experienced by countries participating in IELC.
While the international visitors performed traditional songs and dances, attendees perused tables lined with treats and information about China, Ghana, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa and Spain. The 3rd and 4th Graders held “passports” that were stamped at each destination.
Henry Hilb, a Collegiate senior, attended the Cultural Fair to support the two visiting students that his family hosted during IELC, one from Morocco and one from India. He said today's event, as well as the experience of sharing his home with his new friends, has been transformative.
"Once you have a connection with them, they open up to you and tell you all about their families," he said. "Through them, I feel like I'm getting to see the world in a more understanding way."
Marshall Rigby, a Collegiate parent of an Upper Schooler and Middle School, said her son and daughter loved hosting Nigel, a 9th Grader from Ghana, for the week.
"It was a wonderful experience," Mrs. Rigby said. "We have learned through him about his culture."
Cathy Rosenstock, parent of 4th Grader Will Rosenstock, said attending the Cultural Fair with her son was an eye-opening experience.
"I feel like we find parallels to our lives when we see things that are different."
The international students and their teachers will return home to their respective countries on Sunday, leaving behind fond memories of their week as honorary Cougars.