Unity, acceptance, and equality were some of the words used to describe the 6th annual International Fest (iFest) held at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School on Friday, May 20th.
OLHMS kicked off iFest with a spirit week! On Monday, scholars and staff wore the colors of the world’s flags to share their heritage. On Tuesday, you could hear different greetings in different languages being said throughout the building. On Wednesday, clothing with favorite sports teams from around the world were worn. On Thursday, everyone wore their best Mustang culture. Finally, on Friday, the day of iFest, traditional clothing unique to everyone’s specific cultures were worn throughout the building.
International Fest’s Opening Ceremony began with a parade through the building. Student representatives from each Advisory carried different flags from around the world in a flag parade. The halls were lined with staff and students cheering and clapping for the different countries represented in our Mustang community. The parade ultimately concluded in the gymnasium where each flag was proudly displayed for all to see!
On the day of iFest, students were given the opportunity to celebrate their own cultures and learn about their friends’ and teachers’ cultures as well! During Encore classes, students toured different country presentations created by students. Some of the countries included in the presentations were Poland, Puerto Rico, Greece, Palestine, Croatia, Italy, New Zealand, Ireland, Mexico, Philippines, France, and many others!
Students also spent time in Advisory to create their own unity flags showcasing their different cultures, identities, and interests. These flags were strewn together in a single banner to represent each individual student’s identity and show how everyone is united at OLHMS. Students also watched different cultural films and discussed the stereotypes of each culture and how people are overcoming those stereotypes. 6th grade students watched The Luck of the Irish, 7th grade students watched The Hundred-Foot Journey, and 8th grade students watched Bend It Like Beckham. Rich conversations were had by students and staff to continue the theme of unity at OLHMS.
iFest sponsor, Ms. Faheem, was also able to bring different cultural groups to OLHMS to perform for staff and students! These performances included many of our own Mustangs who performed traditional dances from their cultures! Some scholars performed traditional dances found throughout Central and South America such as Bachata from the Dominican Republic, Cumbia from Colombia, and El Caballo Dorado, the Mexican remake of the popular 90s American song “Achy Breaky Heart”.
OLHMS also welcomed Grandmaster Kim, a certified Taekwondo Master from the World Taekwondo Headquarters in South Korea and two-time first place champion of the National Taekwondo Championship. Grandmaster Kim and his instructors from Woori Academy in Evergreen Park demonstrated the art of Taekwondo and even taught some of our very own Mustangs the basic moves.
Richards High School students part of the Dabke Team and All American Dance Class graciously performed for OLHMS as well! Dabke is a style of line dance from the Middle East that combines footwork, teamwork, stepping, and jumping. Dabke is typically performed at weddings and parties. The Richards High School Dabke Team wore traditional Middle Eastern clothing while performing which made the performance even more special! The All American Dance Class performed self-choreographed routines that combine different dance styles from around the world such as merengue, Afro beats, step, and majorettes. These Richards High School students had the entire crowd cheering and roaring at their fantastic routines!
OLHMS’s very own Ms. Faheem and Ms. Maan taught a group of students contemporary Bollywood and Punjabi Bhangra dances. The traditional and classical Pakistani and Indian Bollywood dance uses elegant movements and spins. The Bhangra dance is more energetic with lots of energy, jumping, and exaggerated movements. Ms. Faheem, Ms. Maan, and their students’ performances were outstanding!
The mission of International Fest is to create a dynamic and supportive environment that embraces diversity and contributes positively to our community and Mustang society which also follows the District’s mission. iFest 2022 successfully helped all OLHMS Mustangs work towards this goal. We are so proud of our brave Mustangs who performed and shared their culture and are grateful to the entertainers from the community who shared their talents and cultures with us as well. Everyone is looking forward to the next iFest!