Savoring world culture at Western School of Technology's annual Cultural Coalescence


Let's take a walk to Nigeria, or maybe to Japan. The idea seems absurd, but students and teachers of Western School of Technology figuratively did just that recently at the school's annual Cultural Coalescence.

Cultural Coalescence is an event that each year celebrates the Catonsville school's diversity. Through the event, students become teachers by setting up a variety of stations representing different countries, complete with tri-fold boards, interactive games, and precious heirlooms.

Reflecting the school's diversity were the seniors who were in charge of the event this year: Oluwaseyi Ogunadana, Radhika Patel, Lezah Calvin and Sarah Arafat. Once again, the celebration was spearheaded by social studies department chair Kevin Applegate.


Thanks to last year's event, the buzz about dance performances for the 2013 version spread faster than a California wildfire. Last year – the first that there was a dance performance – students representing India staged a "Bollywood" number for students four times a day; Western's student body couldn't get enough of the dancing and music.

This year, students representing Nigeria and Pakistan dedicated themselves to making the dance special and bigger than ever. Pakistani students surprised everyone when they brought teachers to the middle of the gym to join them with their dance.

"The dances were great, and they spent a lot of time practicing," senior Tony Lin said. Having the teachers dance was enjoyable as well, he added. "I hope they do it again next year and the year after because teachers need to get involved in cultural dances just like everybody else."

With more than 170 students involved in the Cultural Coalescence this year, a staggering amount of countries were featured. In addition to returning favorites such as India, Pakistan, and Nigeria, represented nations included Russia, Turkey, Colombia, Spain, Afghanistan, Egypt, Panama Canal, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Philippines, Trinidad, Jamaica, France, Puerto Rico, and Japan, among others.

This event is all about fun, but its purpose is also to learn something new about each country. Every station asked students attending the event to answer two questions on a slip of paper they received when they entered the front doors. These facts are usually learned from the colorful tri-folds or the fun, interactive games set up at the stations.

Overall, Cultural Coalescence 2013 was a success. Students and teachers agreed that it was a great learning experience and an awesome way to interact with one another while learning.
"I think it's great," senior Jacob Badin said at the end of the first day of the event. "Everything's going as we planned, and there's been so much interaction between all the people who came, and they've learned so much, and they're taking a lot with them and it's a great thing."

Story by Jenika Brown, a student at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science. Photos courtesy of Western School of Technology.
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