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Parade of Nations is celebration of diversity

Kentwood  — Mexico. Vietnam. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bhutan. The Netherlands. Jamaica, Burundi, Puerto Rico. Guatemala. Sudan.

That’s just a partial list of the countries Townline Elementary students come from and recently celebrated in the school’s second annual Parade of Nations. Flags waved and students cheered as they made their way down the red carpet crossing the school’s gymnasium.

Dressed in traditional garb, third-grader Saad Sajid represented Pakistan, where his family comes from. He was eager to share facts about his country and learn about others. 

“I can learn about all the countries, know their holidays and religions,” he said.

The event has become a tradition in the district’s 10 elementary schools. In the most diverse district in the state, it’s a way to celebrate culture and the strengths of diversity, organizers said. Townline’s event included Taste of Nations, with ethnic dishes for students to sample, student-led poetry,  song and rap, and traditional Ethiopian dancers. Students created posters about their countries and lined them up in the collaboration center.

Third-grader Lamia Kaltaka wore a traditional outfit from Bosnia and Herzegovina. “It’s about my culture,” she said.

Elsa Le, represented Vietnam, where her family is from.

“Vietnam is a very nice place,” Elsa said. “It is very chill, and it has a lot of good food.” 

Event organizer Katie Lett, multilingual learner teacher, organized the district’s first Parade of Nations when she was a teacher at Bowen Elementary in 2017. Since then, other district schools have hosted their own annually. It’s her first year teaching at Townline. 

“It’s been really cool to combine my vision with the vision they’ve created here,” she said.

Second-grade teacher Fathiya Mohamed, who comes from Somalia, had her class study another African country, Sudan, in preparation for the event including current events and history. She also helped organize the day.

“I love it because I never had this as a kid. This feels really good to be able to celebrate all the different cultures in our school. It brings the child in me joy.”

Read more from Kentwood: 
Connecting cultures through holiday traditions
Cookin’ it up in the kitchens

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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