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In the Schools Guest Column

"Global Cafe" at RHS an Experience for All Involved

Mikayla Templeton

Friday, April 4, 2014 • 12:00pm

RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph High School held their (somewhat) annual “Global Cafe,” a concert-meets-food-exhibition held in the school commons this past Wednesday night. The event was not only a school function, but an experience.

Students and staff were asked in the months leading up to it to express their individual heritages by bringing in food items from around the world or performing musical pieces onstage. The event was organized by the Spanish and French Honor Societies, and the Foreign Language staff at the school.

Mrs. Sybil Gonzales, Spanish teacher and SHS coordinator, said about the event, “It’s something that is unique from this district; to have such wide diversity, and also to keep in touch between the school and the community so we can gather together. We are like one piece - we don’t have to be two separate worlds, the school and the community.”

“It’s a way for us [the Spanish Honor Society] to work with the French Society,” adds Spanish teacher and SHS coordinator Mrs. Luscinda Lane, “And bring in not just our various cultures, but also join the richness and variety of talent in this school. It’s a perfect venue for us.”

What made the night special wasn’t just the performances by many talented students and teachers,  the plethora of diverse ethnic foods, or the spirit of community and school coming together. The theme is really, in essence, being able to appreciate different cultures.  RHS takes pride in the way that diversity is celebrated every day.

A venue like this is perhaps one of the best ways to promote the acceptance of differences between people, and the Global Cafe proved extremely effective.

Senior Josh Lane debuted the idea for a new program he plans to start with his brother and other students aimed at helping immigrant students and community members assimilate. They hope to help the people around them better understand the foreign cultures their new peers come from.

In addition, guests were fortunate enough to hear a guest speaker, Ms. Deborah Gilbert Traore, say a few words about her experience in the Peace Corps. A native of France, she moved to America at a young age and had been bilingual for most of her life. Recently, she was fortunate to spend three years in Western Africa doing volunteer work, and she expressed a deep admiration for the experience and the lessons she learned in the process.

“I learned that there are some things about people that we don’t know, and it’s...almost a disservice to humanity to judge people based on things that we know nothing about. And so I dove in headfirst into the culture, into the language...learning the language is very important, and just connecting with people...Even though I did set goals, and reached out to a lot of people...I got so much more back from that experience than I could ever have given.”

The spirit of the entire night was about celebrating the diversity of cultures around the world, and although this wasn’t the largest of “Global Cafe” events, it certainly opened a lot of eyes to the rich variety of lifestyles worldwide. One can take away more than just one life lesson from something like this - perhaps the most important is that it takes exposure to really be able to understand and appreciate the world in context.

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