Multicultural Assembly Means Marvelous Memories

Planning multicultural week from a student and participant perspective


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El Baile de los Viejitos being presented at the cultural assembly

This year I got the wonderful opportunity to make the multicultural assembly take place. It is only my second year here at Juan Diego but since last year, I was a part of this assembly and captured a glimpse into a new Juan Diego tradition. People were in awe and astoundment of what diverse student environment they have within their school. It was the first year something like that took place and I wasn’t going to let my school down and decided to take action on this spectacular event.

I decided to take on this role of planning alongside Director of Student Activities, Nathan Tack, French/Spanish National Honor Society and National Honor Society moderator, Shauna Killpack, World Languages director Carlos Galvez, and most importantly my own M.E.Ch.A. club and the International Club. I wanted people to take away the rich tradition of celebrating and respecting our different cultures.

I began officially talking within the International club and M.E.Ch.A. club to get an accumulation of thoughts. As most pitch meetings start, it was very bland and a rough outline of what we wanted but it served well. Later, I began to send an email to Mr. Tack about my pitch and said to talk to the person in charge within student government. As a result, I didn’t get much collaboration from student government and had to skip out on them and take the matter into my own hands.

In the middle of February, I had this feeling that the cultural assembly was coming up way too fast yet others and I just weren’t ready. This is when I began to panic and told Ms. Killpack we needed to go to Mr. Tack’s office immediately. When it comes to emailing Mr. Tack, he usually doesn’t get through the clutter of emails he receives on a regular basis. By barging into his office, we know we are going to receive the help we need.

Ms. Killpack and I showed up after school, luckily Mr. Tack was lounging around and put all his attention onto our proposal. He was delighted with the idea and even gave us an official date being a 9 a.m. assembly on March 25th, 2021. This was a fun experience because teachers were coming in and pressuring Mr. Tack to make it happen and lots of giggles came out of this.
Now with the date less than a month away, I had to make sure that I had enough acts to cover for the show. My own M.E.Ch.A. group had four dances in total, the International Club had one, and Ahea Tavake had one. This barely made up 30 minutes of the show which made me panic. I told Ms. Killpack that I needed her to contact the Tahitian boys in her AP French class about the assembly pronto.

The Tahitian boys last year, put on this wonderful act, The Haka. It was a male-dominant dance where they show off their strength and manliness, they also ripped their shirts and well girls went crazy. Administration did not like this and resulted in the boys getting detention. This year, they hindered on whether to do an act or not

Ms. Killpack and I at the start of every AP French class had to persuade them to do something but they didn’t have an idea on what to do. What concerned Ms. Killpack’s and I, is that last year The Haka was a last minute pitch, actually the morning of, and I wanted an idea of how long the performance would be. After much asking and pleasing they finally decided on a Tahitian song, Fakateretere.

Next, I had to round up senior Ahea Tavake which originally had planned to dance alongside her junior cousin Elizabeth Maetele. Maetele later decided that it would be too much on her schedule and Tavake had to come up with a solo. Tavake had the idea to present a Hawaiian dance called Kuahiwi Nani also known as Haleakala Hula. She then also had the idea of doing a Tahitian solo called, Fakateretere, which was another stressor due to the fact that the Tahitian boys decided on the same song.
When I realized that they were going to be performing the same song, I took a double take. I thought and Tavake had the same thought to either perform the song together or separately. We agreed on together being best but they decided this a day before the cultural performance and Tavake still didn’t have the dance set and memorized.
I was very worried when I heard about this, because first off the songs were different paces since one was pre recorded and the other well was live singing and strumming. Tavake also had work that same evening and told me she would have the time to practice it. They practiced their act the morning of and I was impressed.

On top of having to worry about organizing the assembly, I had to put together my own club’s dances to show to the school. We as a presidency chose 4 songs all pertaining from different parts of Latin America: 1. Baile de los Viejitos(Old Man Dance) – Michoacan, Mexico 2. El Toro Mambo(The Bull Mambo) – Sinaloa, Mexico 3. Saca la Mano(Take out the Hand) – Peru and lastly 4. Guadalajara – Jalisco, Mexico.
The hardships when it came to organizing the dances I wanted authentic folk dances and having the experience, I wanted students to experience the true flavor of Mexico. When it came to getting the dresses and costumes, it was another issue since most of the attire are $100+ which adds up really quick. Thankfully I have really close connections with my old dance group and they let me borrow’ keyword’ BORROW the attire. Most Latin American folklore groups don’t lend attire and I am beyond blessed to have some of it. We still had to rent some dresses but it was a huge favor and I am grateful for those people.
In addition to wanting to do authentic pieces, I had to show the boys and girls in my club the technique and style of the dances. I have been dancing traditional dances like these since I was eight years old, so transferring my knowledge to my peers was a challenge because if we were able to transfer what I know to them, it would’ve been a completely different story. I am really impressed with my group though, we really pulled through and it was vibrant.

I never worried about the International Club students because senior Dayana Amornnimit seemed to have everything under control. I was really surprised that even though they seemed to have all their performance down, they still struggled piecing the show together like I did with my group. They added fans and super cute steps and I loved it!

The last participant in the show was sophomore Camelia Dias. Actually, I discovered her within my own mentor group when she said she wanted to do some cultural foods and that’s when the lightbulb hit. I asked her if she wanted to do it and without a doubt she joined. She only had a weekend to learn the dance but during the rehearsal she seemed the most put together out of all of us.
When the day of the cultural assembly finally came, I was anxious because I felt we weren’t ready. I had to create a script the night before and hoped people would collaborate. I ended up sitting on the floor writing most of it and had to rush to get it printed out. Mr. Tack had no absolute idea what was going to happen due to us losing communication towards the last couple days.

The execution was by far my favorite part of all the planning. It hit the assembly mark which teachers were grateful for since it didn’t mess up the schedule by going overtime. The performances were very well performed and you could hear the oo’s and awe’s of the audience.
The cultural assembly planning was really fun but it was a lot of time. I would tell those who are involved with this tradition in the following years that a lot of time is needed and most importantly they need to find passion within this show. Nothing makes me happier than showing my part of the world to others.

All participants of the cultural assembly for a final round of applause (David Kale)

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