Oakland multicultural festival

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OAKLAND - Oakland Middle School hosted its second annual multicultural festival Thursday night. Students from over 30 countries performed and showcased different cultures and diversities.

Oakland Middle School provides an English Language Learners (ELL) program for its students, and this is the first year that the school is fully immersed in a welcoming initiative. Principal Helen Porter said its purpose at the school is important, especially for the middle school students who come from countries all over the world. 

"Some of them have been to school before, and some of them are refugees who have lived in a refugee camp or in many different places that were not safe," she said.

For the festival, students made boards with information about their specific country and provided food from that country of choice.

Spanish and Chinese teacher Nichol Einsiedel, who directed the event, said this event is the best way for the community to become familiar with other cultures.

"Diversity is one thing we all have in common, so why not celebrate it?" she said.

Burma, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Thailand and Taiwan are just some of the countries where the students come from. Eighth grader Jasmine Powell said she likes having diverse classmates. 

"I think it's cool to hear little fun facts about where people have lived," she said. "We get to know different things about people that we wouldn't usually know just walking around here because most people here are like the same."

Porter said the coming together as a community means everything for the students.

"It's really important that we celebrate their progress, their growth, their resilience, their strength," she said. "We love them, and we let them know that and we have learned so much from them."