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Celebrating Diversity within Sycamore Community School District 427

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Celebrating Diversity within Sycamore Community School District 427
A collage of images containing students attending various country booths at the World Cultural Fair events.


For the first time this past school year, World Cultural Fairs took place at each of our five elementary schools. This initiative was spearheaded by Sycamore High School's World Youth Club (WYC) and English Language Learners (ELL) students and has provided a glimpse of global culture for our young learners.

The concept of the World Cultural Fair began in 2013 at North Grove Elementary School. Back then, SHS students read aloud in their native languages within classrooms. It was a simple yet powerful way to share the beauty of linguistic diversity. As the years passed, the initiative grew and eventually transitioned to West Elementary School, where it had expanded to include cultural presentations alongside the readings.

The driving force behind the expansion of the World Cultural Fair to all elementary schools in our district has been the passion and dedication of our WYC and ELL students. They believed strongly that every elementary student should have the opportunity to experience different cultures. This year, 30-40 high school students from grades 9-12 came together to make this vision a reality.

During the monthly fairs, our high school students hosted various booths and stations where they shared aspects of their heritage or a particular culture they were passionate about. The fairs featured everything from ethnic cuisine samples to interactive activities. One of the most popular stations was one where a student created custom nametags for the elementary students with their names written in Arabic.

Claribel Robles, ELL Director and World Youth Club Advisor, has been a guiding force behind this initiative since its inception. Reflecting on the journey, she shares, "I've been fortunate enough to serve as a WYC advisor and ELL teacher since 2013 and have had the pleasure of working with an amazing group of students at the high school. Their presentations over the years have not only amazed me, but also the students and staff. It's incredible to see the value they place on sharing their culture and native language, which fills them with a sense of pride that is truly indescribable. The cultural fair allowed our World Youth Club students to proudly showcase their cultural identity and heritage. It really gave them a sense of belonging and allowed them to make meaningful connections with each other. These connections are so valuable to our students and help create a sense of community within our schools. It was a wonderful opportunity for them to share their rich cultures with their peers and staff members, giving everyone a deeper understanding of the diversity and uniqueness that our multicultural students bring to Sycamore 427."

Shellyara T. Hinojosa-Maymi, one of the high school student participants, expressed her joy in being a part of this initiative. "I would say my favorite part of participating in the World Cultural Fairs is honestly the fact that we get to pass on such great information to the younger students in our Sycamore community, and in such a fun way. We get to broaden their knowledge of the world, and I think it's beautiful that we get to represent ourselves within this project. I know each of our high school students has their own twist on how they present their home countries, and it's so fun and exciting to see the passion some of us present with. I know I love presenting on Puerto Rico, and I believe that being a part of this experience is one of the best things we could do for our future generations, and it's one of my favorite things to do."

As a senior student, Biannca Pasillas shared how invaluable this experience was for her personally. “I would have to say that my favorite thing about presenting at the World Culture Fair is seeing the excitement in some kids' eyes when they see the country that they are from. I remember being one of the four LatinX students in my grade, and being so excited when I saw someone presenting on Mexico or any Latin American country. Because I felt seen, especially growing up in a predominantly white town, it felt nice seeing people of my own cultural background, teaching my peers about our culture.” 

The World Cultural Fairs have been more than just an event; they have been a celebration of diversity, unity, and learning. They have allowed our high school students to take pride in their cultural heritage while fostering a sense of community among their younger peers. Together, we are creating a richer, more diverse educational experience for all.

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