Bringing world to school

Cultures: The Bonnie Branch PTA uses International Night to recognize the diverse backgrounds of families of the pupils.

Education Beat

News from Howard County schools

April 10, 2005|By Tawanda W. Johnson | Tawanda W. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The pulsating drum beat beckoned the Jow Ga Lion Dance and Demo Team to the stage at Bonnie Branch Middle School in Ellicott City.

While more than 150 people looked on Thursday night in the school cafeteria, the dancers performed the "The Lion Dance," a performance featuring folk dance and kung fu, a martial art.

Clad in bright red and black jumpsuits and partially covered by a lion costume, the dancers kicked their feet in the air, jumped up and down and sashayed from one side of the stage to a thumping beat.

"I think they did an excellent job," said Rose Coleman, chairwoman of the school's PTA Family Events Committee. "There are a lot of families here who don't get a chance to come out, and this is great."

The dancers were at the school as part of the PTA's second International Night, an event designed to bring families together and to recognize the school's diverse cultures and customs.

Families set up displays about their native homelands or countries that they've visited. The displays included photographs, maps, artifacts, clothes and food to sample.

A Howard County library representative participated, bringing books from different countries showcasing recipes, information and other interesting tidbits. Members of the International Practical Training Office, a human resource development firm, also were on hand for the event.

At a table showcasing Argentina, those who attended sampled spinach coquettes. At the South Korean display, people nibbled on sushi rolls while artists created pictures on paper and on the back of the hands of some who attended.

And across the cafeteria, people tasted papaya, mango and pineapple as part of display about Yap, a small island in the western Pacific Ocean.

"This is really fun, and the food is good," said Gina Mar, a sixth-grader who huddled with her friends in front of the South Korean table as they munched on food from the country.

Gina's family sponsored a display about South Korea, with wooden statutues, clothing and artifacts.

Performers offered a variety of entertainment as the families learned about each other's backgrounds, including Jared Denhard, a local musician; members from the Han Pan Korean American Culture Center; Victory Martial Arts; and Devika Jaipuris, a seventh-grader at Bonnie Branch whose family is from India and also sponsored an International Night display.

Dressed in a long, ornate burgundy dress, Devika shimmied up and down the stage, performing an Indian folk dance.

"Go Devika!" shouted her classmates, cheering her on.

Before she ended her dance, she threw her chunni, or long flowing veil, out to her fans.

"I was nervous," she said, hugging her friends after the performance.

Her classmates were wowed by her dance.

"It was spectacular," said Alex Guseman, also in the seventh grade. "You could tell she really loved interacting with the audience."

Nisha Sinha, another seventh-grader and a friend of Devika, added, "Her performance was great! I've done folk dances with her, and she's very good."

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