Unity in Diversity Festival features drum circle, fashion show


Carson VanBuskirk | @carsonvanbDE

The Carbondale Community High School K-Pop Dance Club dances on Wednesday, March 6, at the “Unity in Diversity” Multicultural Festival in the Carbondale Community High School.

By Brandi Courtois, Staff Reporter

Students and faculty at Carbondale Community High School put together a multicultural festival last night to celebrate diversity in their school and community.

The festival featured activities ranging from drum circles to henna tattoos, food from different countries and regions and tables representing clubs and organizations in the area.

Rebecca Cissell, festival director, said the first festival was held over 20 years ago.


“[The students] love it,” Cissell said. “They just love exploring where their friends are from.”

Students visited tables and activities, carrying passports to keep track of where they had been. Students rushed from activity to activity in an effort to visit everything.

In the cafeteria, the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America group served food, a diversity circle formed and an American Sign Language table taught students how to introduce themselves to a deaf community member.

Arnold Taylor, the department chair for world languages at CCHS, was at the English as a Second Language table. He said learning a foreign language is the key to all other subjects.

“It’s really rewarding,” Taylor said. “I enjoy the culture. And [the students] learn from each other.”

Just outside of the cafeteria a stage had been set up for a group to perform and teach Salsa dancing.

“They’re telling a story with their body,” Stephanie Hernandez, a CCHS student, said. She said it was her favorite part of the whole festival.


Tables representing Honduras, Palestine and the Program of Academic Exchange sat nearby, underneath flags from all over the world.

Thomas said this year CCHS has exchange students from not only Spain but Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India and Kazakhstan.

At one point a large drum circle formed. At the center sat Michael Schuler, a student in CCHS’ percussion class. The ground rumbled as students grinned and looked around the circle to each other.

“I like the diversity and the unity I felt,” Schuler said. “It brought everybody together.”

Anastasia Solbrig, from Ukraine, said her favorite part of the festival was the drum circle.

“It’s easy to add on,” Solbrig said.

Arwen Mullins, of Carbondale, said she liked being able to see where her classmates are from.

“[The festival] opens people’s eyes about where their peers are from,” Mullins said. “I’m excited to see K-Pop dance club perform.”

Tables representing India, Malaysia, the German Club and the Japanese Club educated students about their respective countries and some offered up foods for people to try or played music from their countries.

Adrian Self, 15, of Carbondale, ran the Malaysia table. She lived in Malaysia for a semester last year and said living abroad helps you understand other people and cultures.

“Travel is really an experience,” Self said. “It’s an education no one can take from you.”

Conor Gleason, 16, of Carbondale managed the Scandinavian Table. He said he had noticed no one else was doing it and wanted to set it up.

“It was interesting to bring culture from other countries here,” Gleason said.

Gleason said he is working on convincing his parents to take a summer vacation somewhere in Scandinavia. He said the flights are cheaper and lit up when he talked about his hopes to see mountain and glacier parks.

To wrap up the end of the night some of the students participated in an international fashion show. Some of the garments worn came from Hawaii, Japan, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan and India.

The garments represented both traditional and formal wear and students cheered for their classmates and applauded the colorful garments.

Staff writer Brandi Courtois can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Brandi_Courtois.

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