Bloomfield Hills Schools hosts multicultural celebration

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 12, 2018

 Papa Titos Sompa leads students, staff and parents in dancing, singing and clapping with  a performance of Congolese drumming during the multicultural celebration at Bloomfield Hills High School on March 6.

Papa Titos Sompa leads students, staff and parents in dancing, singing and clapping with a performance of Congolese drumming during the multicultural celebration at Bloomfield Hills High School on March 6.

Photo by Deb Jacques

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — The Bloomfield Hills School District invited students to show off their heritage at its first-ever districtwide multicultural celebration.

At the March 6 event, more than 30 displays were designed, put together and overseen by students that demonstrated different aspects of cultures from all over the world.

“We have a beautifully diverse population in the Bloomfield Hills School District,” said Leah Abel, the event’s co-chair. “This is a great opportunity to show off your family’s culture and be proud of it.”

The district previously hosted several diversity events at individual schools, but decided to pool its resources and host those events together at Bloomfield Hills High School, 4200 Andover Road.

“We thought it would be cool to put it all together and to bring everyone here in the new facility at the school, where all of our students either are attending or will attend one day,” said Abel.

The theme of the event was “invention,” and each booth showed off inventions or other cultural innovations from the culture in question. A call was put out to the students in the district, and many answered with some creative displays.

“We taught people about calligraphy and what different Chinese symbols mean,” said Lucy Varterian, who was showing off Chinese and Thai culture. “People were surprised to learn what each character meant.”

Demonstrations of cultural landmarks, models of inventions and samples of food were displayed at several of the booths. There were also musical demonstrations performed by several local cultural groups and school clubs.

“We taught people some things I think they didn’t realize, like how radar was invented here or how Alexander Graham Bell was Scottish,” said eighth-grader India Jamison, whose booth covered her parent’s homeland of Scotland. “I enjoyed sharing my culture with people, and it was great getting to show them some new things.”

Countries from every continent, except Australia, were featured — even Antarctica, although Abel had to create that booth herself.

Dr. Dima El Gamal, the parent of a student in the district, helped bring a display from the 1,001 Inventions exhibit that was recently featured at the Michigan Science Center. The exhibit shows off the numerous creations, inventions and discoveries that came out of the Middle East through dioramas, interactive models and videos.

Several students, including El Gamal’s daughter Dahla, dressed in character as the historical figures highlighted in the display.

“It’s pretty cool to portray your culture and share it with other people,” said Dahla, who acted as Fatima al-Fihri, who built the world’s oldest known university in Morocco. “To show people how much of our modern culture came out of the Middle East — especially when you’re talking about something like the oldest known university being founded not only by a Muslim, but by a Muslim woman — it’s really fulfilling and neat to show people that.”