Upper School students and faculty had the opportunity to participate in a Multicultural Day, led by the Upper School's UNITiD Club (You and I Together in Diversity), an event that capitalized on the diverse backgrounds of students and teachers at Norfolk Academy. The day began with a panel of esteemed civic leaders and entrepreneurs, focusing on the challenges facing minorities in business. It featured Bruce Smith, who became a real estate developer after his Hall of Fame career in the NFL; Smith’s public advocacy in favor of minority-owned businesses led the Virginia Beach City Council to conduct a disparity study, which revealed the need to take action to create a more equitable approach. (Read more on the panel discussion.) Students also chose from a menu of workshops, all led by students and faculty; topics included languages, dances, music, and even baking challah (Jewish egg bread) in the Refectory.
In the Christian Religions workshop, led by Upper School English teacher Mrs. Charlotte Zito and Michael Hostutler ‘18, participants shared their religious or faith-based practices. The workshop leaders led a casual yet informative discussion about the aspects that differ between many of the Christian religions. At the conclusion of the workshop, each participant got to paint a sign of their religion or belief system on a banner, titled with the Coexist symbol, now hanging in the Upper School.
In the “A Taste of African Folklore” workshop, Ms. Joan Allison, who teaches third grade boys, taught the students in that workshop the steps to Kuku, an African dance that originated in Guinea. The dance is typically performed by women, and it was originally a dance that women who came back from fishing would partake in. After students learned the dance, the music--high-speed rhythmic drumming--was added. The students then split off into groups to add their own personal style to the dance, and then the workshop ended with the groups performing their respective dances.
In the challah-making workshop, led by Maiya Foleck ’19, students kneaded dough, braided it, and coated it in egg yolk. While baking and preparing, Maiya shared a history of challah and its place in the Jewish tradition, all the while giving clear and helpful instructions. The bread baked while other workshops were going on, but it eventually made it to the trays at lunch for the students to enjoy! (It was delicious!)
Asian Languages, led by Katherine Change ’20, Andi Yuan ’20, and Julia Duarte ’20, explored the similarities and differences of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cultures by examining aspects of each culture, including different foods. After that, each of the workshop leaders taught everyone how to say “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “I don’t speak [Korean, Chinese, Japanese]”, “Where’s the bathroom?” and some common phrases in their respective languages. Finally, the workshop leaders discussed their experiences with Asian stereotypes and their challenges in living between two vibrant cultures.
Multicultural day ended with a presentation of TED Talk by Mellody Hobson, entitled “Color Blind or Color Brave?” She argued that people should not seek to be “color blind” or pretend that they do not notice racial differences; rather, she said, people should be “color brave.” She highlighted why, in our society, people must be able to see and appreciate their differences and recognize the strength in diversity. Overall, the day was a very successful glimpse into the cultures and aspects that make the students and teachers at Norfolk Academy so unique. This year’s theme allowed for everyone to listen, learn, and potentially even understand the many differences that we all have.