Stories from our international boarding schools

Crossing borders with Culture Fair

What is an international school if it does not acknowledge the different countries that have come together to become one? I, Adell Gadzey, would like to talk about the Culture Fair, and what it means to EF Academy, along with my friend, Beryl Kem, who would like to give an insight on what it was like for her particular country. Maintaining to definition, EF Academy is a very diverse and international school. On Friday April 20th, EF Academy had its annual Culture Fair! This is an event where the countries within EF Academy disperse into individual groups to create a beautiful presentation of the places they call home. The classrooms and hallways are transformed into a museum, feeding students/visitors with food and information about different countries from all over the world. Whether through games, music or language, the students representing each country expressed themselves in their own way. We had over 20 countries participating this year, including Turkey, Vietnam, Ghana, Norway and India. This diverse representation which made the event even more interesting! Italy intrigued guests with a real motorcycle in their room, while Brazil invited visitors to splash around in the ocean (a miniature swimming pool)! Every country had at least one type of unique artifact to set their country apart and highlight its unique culture.

I, Beryl Kem, am one of many representatives of Cameroon and Nigeria. In order to teach our community about our countries we put on a display of Nigerian and Cameroonian clothing, indigenous masks and African fabrics. We tried to replicate the floors of some Cameroonian and Nigerian homes by arranging special wooden bowls so that they resembled a site for cooking. The household brooms (handmade brooms made out of wild grass or palm tree branches) were spaced out on the floor. Truly the best part of the whole display was the variation of Cameroonian and Nigerian music played for the guests.

Just like the other countries, we educated the guests about our different cultures in several ways. We gave those who wanted them meaningful Nigerian and Cameroonian names. We taught them some Cameroon and Nigerian modern dance moves as well as the traditional dance moves. Each guest had their face decorated with white dots, which imitated the dots that some of Cameroonian and Nigerian people have on their faces for beauty purposes. These white dots are applied on the faces of women who are about to get married and their “bridesmaids.” In addition, we ordered some Nigerian food  so that others would be able to experience our country’s cooking.

Most students represented their countries by wearing beautiful traditional attire. Cameroon and Nigeria brought diversity when it came to our clothing; we wore dashikis, Nigerian wedding dresses, and some of the girls wrapped African material around their waist with simple mono-colored shirts. Because Cameroon and Nigeria have such diverse cultures within themselves, we wanted to make sure that all of our cultural diversity was showcased at its finest.

It was really great to be able to educate people about where we come from. Culture Fair was one of my favorite days at EF Academy New York because even though I was miles away from home, I really felt like Cameroon and Nigeria were right here in New York. The idea of culture fair brings joy to my heart because it shows that all of our cultures and backgrounds matter, and that they deserve recognition. At the end of the day, all our hard work paid off and Cameroon and Nigeria were awarded a certificate for having the best decorated room. This is an experience I cannot wait to have again next year.

Culture Fair was a beautiful and successful event this year – and it only gets bigger and better with each passing year. It’s always a great thing to experience rich cultural diversity hands-on, because it helps make you become a more open-minded person. Being open to new perspectives and culturally aware is an amazing trait that really brings all the students at EF Academy together. We are truly an international family.


Written By Beryl Kem-Bumbara and Adell Gadzey, former students at EF Academy New York

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