by Kelly Sullivan
On the evening of May 7, Syre Student Center was bustling with youngsters from Whatcom County elementary schools, joined by proud parents, community members, and Whatcom students. All were there for the festivities and diverse cultural experience of the Fourteenth Annual International Culture Night.
Joseph Garcia, an eager father of a Larabee student, said how wonderful it was to have so much “cultural diversity brought for us into one little room.”
The first to go on was Whatcom’s own Music Club. Followed by the Music Club were the Silk Road Dancers, a small, children’s group that performs cultural dances to native Chinese music. The group of four elementary school students came out in colorfully patterned traditional Chinese clothing to dance to “Children of the Mountain.”
Dara Burrows expressed excitement for her daughter’s role in one of the evening’s performances, singing in the French Foreign Language program.
Larabee elementary student Rorie Cleckler, 8 said she was performing with the student programs F.L.A.N and the Meridian Parent Partnership program.
“I’m excited to see the French kids sing,” said Cleckler. Many of her friends from school were there to perform as well.
The event was hosted by Japanese visual culture club teaching adviser Setsuko Buckley, who opened with a warm welcome to the entire Whatcom community, exclaiming how wonderful it was to have every one there.
She announced that this year’s theme was “empowering a community of diverse learners.”
Songs were also sung by the Assumption Catholic School Japanese club, enthusiastic renditions of traditional Japanese. The group wore warrior’s hats, made of newspaper, called “Kabutos.” Buckley explained “that the name is derived from “Kabuto-mushi,” a type of beetle, because beetles are strong fighting insects.
The sitting audience became a standing crowd as parents stood and took pictures from their seats throughout the different from the French foreign language program, Mei Hua School Elementary School, and the Whatcom Chamber and Collegiate Choirs.
Whatcom student and Collegiate Choir member Kylee DeCook, 17, said she particularly enjoyed the French version of “heads, shoulders, knees and toes.”
The night’s final performances were pieces by the Squalicum High School Clarinet Quartet, and two more songs put to dance by the Silk Road Dancers. By this time, most of the audience had headed home with tired sisters and brothers wrapped over dad’s shoulders after an evening of excitement.
“Thank you very much for coming,” exclaimed Buckley to audience members. “Or should I say Merci beaucoup,” she said with a laugh.
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