Last Friday marked the fourth annual Multicultural Day event at Salesian Secondary School, Fernbank. It proved a huge hit with students and families alike who were entertained by special performances by international students and local magician Leon Anderson.
Mayor of Limerick Cllr Gerry McLoughlin was delighted to be there to enjoy the festivities.
“It’s a great idea, it’s great for the school, it’s great for Limerick, and I wish every school would do it,” he said.
“We’ve all got our own traditions and it’s important to respect all that and embrace everyone.”
The event was the brainchild of teacher Siobhan Conway, the school’s international student co-ordinator. She developed Multicultural Day so that students would have an opportunity to show that they are proud of where they come from and express themselves creatively.
Ms Conway explained that after living in countries all over the world herself she realised the importance of identity and culture to young people. “When you come to a school like this, everybody is in the same uniform and there’s almost a presumption that we’re all the same and we’re not. We’ve such a diversity of culture in the school, I thought, ‘Why not?’ ”
The project started small but evolved and the fun and educational event has grown from strength to strength since the first Multicultural Day in 2009.
Fact files, flags, educational information, jewellery and literature all featured in the multicultural stands in the gymnasium, which were manned by students from Nigeria, Moldova, Pakistan, Mozambique and Lithuania among others.
Fifth year student Egle Dapkunaite, from Lithuania said: “It’s really nice the way people come to you and they ask you questions and you can tell them about your country. You can see that they are actually really interested and I love that.”
Irish and international students and parents alike were heavily involved in the preparations. Decked out in native costumes they spent all morning preparing their stands and serving homemade exotic delicacies, including Moldovan Ruleta and German mustard sausage with Sauerkraut.
Ms Conway added: “The parents are amazing. They were up all night cooking and they want to share what they have and say, ‘This is where I’m from’. They don’t often get an opportunity like this.”