By Patterson Federal Credit Union
On Thursday, April 14, 2022, the Arkadelphia High School International Club presented World Cultures Day. More than 300 students and community members attended the event, and the club’s leadership was very pleased with the turnout and success. “Our goal was to spread awareness and knowledge of different ethnicities and cultures in a welcoming environment,” said Madelyn Neel, an AHS junior and Vice President of the International Club.
During the event there was representation from Samoa, Indonesia, China, India, Malawi, Mexico, Argentina, El Salvador, Poland, Peru, and South Korea. Presenters brought artifacts, family heirlooms, traditional food, and PowerPoint presentations to represent their cultures. Many also dressed in traditional clothing.
The presenters included Arkadelphia students and families as well as representatives from Arkansas Tech and Henderson State University. Los Agaves was one of their sponsors and provided free food for everyone, which was fantastic according to the event leaders. Performances included Aimee Alonso, an AHS sophomore, who sang a song in Spanish; Rubi and Emily Castro, both AHS students, who danced; Christine Valdivia played the violin; and the HSU Tuba Ensemble performed.
Three of the International Club members shared their takeaways from the event. Mohammad Faiq, an AHS senior, is the current president of the International Club. His favorite part was going out in the community to tell people about the event and invite them. Madelyn Neel enjoyed seeing the community come together and that their hard work was successful. And Brooklynn Boyette, a junior at AHS, most enjoyed watching the performances, especially the traditional dancing.
Another success for the group was the inclusion of the eighth-graders from Goza Middle School. They hope this increases interest in their organization with future high school students. Mohammad, Madelyn and Brooklynn also shared what they would do differently next year. They plan to acquire more sponsors and showcase more restaurants.
The club began preparing for this event in October by asking local business and organizations to participate. They invited people that have come to this event in the past (prior to the pandemic) as well as international and ethnic groups from other schools and universities.
In light of the success of this year’s event they already have groups contacting them to be involved next year. Overall the event leaders feel this was a huge success and very well organized. They all said that the students that attended were actively engaged and intrigued by the presentations.
The International Club was founded by Arkadelphia graduates Aisha Faiq and Yebo Moyo in 2017. Currently there are 17 active members and they are led by Señor Martin Valdivia, an Arkadelphia High School Spanish teacher.