Students plan successful cultural appreciation fair


Amelia Knopp, Staff Writer

Students and staff filled the West campus cafeteria and auditorium on Saturday evening to enjoy the Manhattan High School Cultural Appreciation Fair. The immersive cultural opportunity was planned and executed by World Languages with Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, Hispanic Student Union, French Club, Spanish Club, German Club and AFS. Senior Dilanka Ranaweera, ASU vice president and the Fair’s committee chair, says that the purpose of the event was to bring awareness to different cultures.

“Learning about other cultures is very important to me because there are a lot of misinterpretations and illusions of what other countries are like because people aren’t privileged to go see those other parts of the world,” Ranaweera said. 

Each group created educational trifold boards and provided cultural items, like clothing and games, to display. Attendees could enter a raffle, ask questions at each group’s board and watch a fashion show highlighting traditional wear of various countries.

The event’s original plan just included a raffle for cultural food baskets. However, as the MHS groups continued to meet once a week over Zoom, the idea evolved into a cultural fair with a fashion show. According to senior Josephine Summers, president of German Club, the event required extensive planning and preparation. 

“We created the sign that was at the lunch table where we sold tickets, created the tickets, and put together a trifold,” Summers said. “I created a slide for the presentation and prepared a little speech.”

The fashion show allowed students to show off their cultural wear from various countries while providing a quick explanation and history behind each object. The audience got to see glimpses of clothing from many countries, including Kuwait, Germany and Sri Lanka. In between presentations, students shared musical performances and poetry pertaining to their culture. 

“The fashion show was an awesome way for students that have such diverse cultural backgrounds to express that with everyone,” Summers said. 

BSU president Chalice Carter, senior, says she appreciated the engagement with the attendees of the fair. 

“My favorite part was seeing it all actually come together, and seeing the amount of people who were there and actually asking me questions about the [BSU] board,” Carter said. “It made me really happy that people were actually coming and wanting to know about different cultures.”

Carter hopes that MHS students will continue to immerse themselves in other cultures through events like this one. 

“I think it’s a good thing and a necessary thing to expose yourself to different people,” Carter said. 

Ranaweera, Summers, Carter all recognize the importance of experiencing new cultures. As the committee chair, Ranaweera is hopeful that the Cultural Appreciation Fair will become a tradition at MHS. 

“It’s an entirely student-dependent event, so I think we can [make it annual] because Manhattan High has some great leaders,” Ranaweera said.