A small world after all: Cultures from around the globe visit Seven Hills | TheUnion.com

A small world after all: Cultures from around the globe visit Seven Hills

You could call it a small United Nations, a festival of international flavors, or, in the words of teacher Jim McQuiston, “Around the World in 200,000 Calories.”

Students, parents and teachers in the gym of Seven Hills Middle School were whisked Friday to Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Panama and India by way of display tents, where they sampled the culture and the culinary delights from across on the globe.

Armed with “passports,” the students sampled Australian cookies, Indian naan bread, Spanish samosas, Canadian bacon and yes, Coca-Cola, invented in 1915 by Swede Alexander Samuelson.

An Irish leprechaun and German hill-dweller in lederhosen provided some of the streetside entertainment in the event billed as the International Cultural Event.

For the better part of the year, sixth-grade students in six classes have been studying the culture, history and importance of the world around them. They were instructed to each compile a report on the country of their choosing and decorate in groups tables that represented each nation’s characteristics.

McQuiston has been staging the event for the better part of 15 years. It’s an attempt, he said, to bring a bit of ethnic diversity to an area not particularly known for it.

“It teaches people that being different is OK, and not to be afraid of it. Each culture can bring something positive to the world.”

The gym at times turned into a Middle Eastern bazaar, with students trading their deep-fried churros for a bowl of Italian spaghetti or French toast. Over at the booth showcasing Cuba, students were invited to try their talents under a limbo stick.

Floating above it all was music: Indian sitars, accordions playing Mexican ranchera songs and radios blaring German yodelers and Italian arias.

Asked what he learned about Australia, student Chris Ellison, under the Down Under tent, said: “I’d tell ’em not to eat the vegemite sandwiches.”

(Vegemite, in case you haven’t checked an outback cubbard recently, is a yeast extract that Australians spread on toast. It’s often considered an acquired taste.)

Buie Redford, dressed in lederhosen under the German tent, said he enjoyed helping with his group’s exhibition.

“It was a lot of work for my mom,” he said. “She stayed up five hours one night helping to put this together.”

Trey Herbert, dressed as a leprechaun, said the costume hadn’t given him much luck Friday morning.

“Everyone’s trying to catch me,” he said.

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