Culture Fest is an annual event held at Penn High School in the IMC. Taking place on May 17th, this year’s festival featured the Latino Student Union, Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, Korean Club, Japanese Club, Spanish Club, German Club, French Club, and the 180 Days Around the World Club. The event consisted of booths, featuring the different clubs and organizations. Food and fun activities were offered, including cultural performances. This year, Rosalinda Colina, Keighra Michele, Tegan Regier, and Mr. Guti represented the Spanish Club by singing Shakira and dancing the Bachata. Hannah Jong also sung a Taiwanese song, accompanied by her brother playing violin.

Besides being a fun, social event, Culture Fest has given students the opportunity to express and discuss their ethnic backgrounds. Tomo Sakaue ’23, a representivitve of the Korean Club, thinks “[Culture Fest] is a really good opportunity that we get to experience other cultures through activities”.

Allie Tessier | PNN The Korean Club explains their booth to the attendees of the festival.

Wolfgang Sensei, the Japanese teacher at Penn, also attended the festival. We asked her for her opinion on the event, and she responded with “My favorite thing of the cultural festival is the amazing diversity that we have at Penn High School. So many kids [are] willing to show off their heritage.”

Allie Tessier | PNN Wolfgang Sensei and her Japanese club members serve a traditional dish.

Paulo Diaz-Enciso, a senior in the LSU (Latino Student Union), reflects on the festival. “Culture Fest is definitely an [event] that should be expressed every single year at Penn. It’s basically just a gathering of a bunch of different students with different backgrounds so we can be ourselves and express ourselves how we want to, and [let] people learn [about] their cultures”.

Culture Fest also serves as a point of education and learning for people of all backgrounds. Fareja Afaq, a sophomore from the MSA (Muslim Student Association) touches on this, saying, “I like that people who don’t know much about culture can actually learn about other people’s culture, and people who are disrespectful to Muslims, or different cultures, can be educated”.

Allie Tessier | PNN The MSA gave henna tattoos as a part of their representation at Culture Fest.

Madame Lassen, the French teacher at Penn, represented the French culture. Elaborating on the concept of community and togetherness that Culture Fest promotes, she explains that she loves “…seeing different students, maybe ones that you wouldn’t come in contact with [because] it’s such a large school, so this provides an opportunity to bring people together that might not otherwise come together”.

Being the only Taiwanese person at Penn, we asked Hannah Jong how we could invite more cultures to be represented throughout the school. Regarding this, she says, “I know that in ENL class they have a lot of students from different countries, [and] sometimes they’re just shy to share their culture. But if you could tell them more, and if we have an event like [Culture Fest], just go to their classroom, share your poster, and invite them to be here”.

Allie Tessier | PNN Hannah Jong steps onstage and sings, accompanied by violin.

Clearly, Culture Fest is a great opportunity to bring students together and create a sense of community at Penn. Many students and teachers participated this year, and we got some of their opinions on the event. The LSU had a great performance, dancing the Bachata and Macarena. Paulo Diaz-Enciso says that “It was really fun just being ourselves and goofing off onstage”. Hannah Jong loves that “You can share culture with your friends, and it has a lot of good food!”

Allie Tessier | PNN Excited attendees watch the LSU’s performance.

Madame Lassen’s favorite part of Culture Fest was “The food. I think that’s a big part that can bring everyone together from any culture. Everybody loves to eat, everybody needs to eat, everybody likes good food”.

In conclusion, Culture Fest is a great opportunity for students to explore the life outside of their home and experience ethnicities outside of America! Many students express a desire for next year’s to turnout to be even larger, and hopefully others will be encouraged to go and represent themselves and learn about others.

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Check out a promotional video, advertising Culture Fest!