The Examiner

Byram Hills Celebrates its Diversity With Fourth Global Village Day

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Traditional dances, clothing alnog with food attracted several hundred to Byram Hills' Global Village Day last Saturday.
Traditional dances, clothing alnog with food attracted several hundred to Byram Hills’ Global Village Day last Saturday.

Westchester communities are sometimes thought of for their wealth and not for their riches of cultural and ethnic diversity.

Over the past five years, however, the Byram Hills School District in Armonk has showcased the wide diversity within its community at one of the most enjoyable events of the year.

Last Saturday was the district’s Global Village Day at Byram Hills High School featuring traditional food, dance and dress from nine selected countries around the globe. The common thread among the countries represented–Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Ireland, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa and Sweden–is that members of the district’s student body and their families can trace their roots to one of these nations.

“To me, this is the best social studies lesson you can give to these children and a lesson they won’t forget,” said Jyoti Tewani, who was in charge of coordinating the day’s entertainment. “They can’t find this in any other book.”

Children came with their parents to mingle with other members of the community and to take in the music and dance. There were also arts and crafts for the younger children and various nonprofit and service organizations on hand.

Of course, the biggest draw for the admission price was probably the delicious array of food found at each one of the country’s tables.

Helping friends at the table for Morocco was Nilima Parker, handing out small plates of roast chicken with couscous and chickpeas. There was also an appetizer consisting of salad, humus, broccoli dip and pita bread.

Parker, who moved with her family to Armonk from Australia about 16 months ago, said they chose to move into the district because of Byram Hills’ outstanding academic reputation but also because they had heard about the strong multinational presence in the community, which i not always apparent from afar.

“We came here to a welcoming community and just loving it, absolutely loving it,” Parker said. “I’m proud to be part of it.”

Impressively, the nine countries featured last Saturday are different from the ones highlighted in previous years, said Superintendent Dr. William Donohue. Organizers recalled that the first three Global Village Day celebrations typically included 10 to 12 countries.

For Donohue, it was fun to have a community event where children and their parents can be together and simply have a good time. Still, there was also a larger lesson to be learned.

“I think the second thing is we really want to promote these values because the world these kids are going to be adults in, I think it’s going to be a requirement that you appreciate diversity and not be afraid of it and to be successful in that world,” Donohue said. “They need to learn these things now.”

Although people may look, dress or eat differently, there are plenty of similarities that can be found, said Gina Maman, who was born in Thailand while her husband is Indonesian.

“I think it’s good that from different cultures people can experience their differences and appreciate each other more,” Maman said.

Attending his first Global Village Day was Gaetano Lombardo, whose wife volunteered last year and again this year. After the 2013 event, Lombardo said she told him of all the great food that he missed. Lombardo, who wasn’t disappointed, also wondered about the events that brought everybody together.

“We live it, we have different ethnic backgrounds, different religions (in our family),” Lombardo said. “For us it’s everyday life but to see all the different cultures, people you know you don’t even know their story.”


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