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International Festival at Matthews

On a typical day at Matthews Charter Academy, you can hear at least five different languages as parents walk their children into school.  One boy is asked, in Russian, if he remembered to bring his homework.  A mother points out a bird overhead in Vietnamese. It’s no surprise then, that the MCA Parent Teacher Partnership (PTP) decided an International Festival was called for in the spring of 2018, after donations came in from 18 different countries during our school’s annual Fun Run fundraiser.
The inaugural PTP-sponsored event was a huge success as parents poured into the gymnasium both to host their own country tables and to visit and enjoy the cultures of many others at the school.  Former PTP president Jill Edquist reflected, “It's important that we highlight and celebrate all of the many cultures that are a part of our MCA family. Our children benefit when they are around kids who don't celebrate the same cultural activities that they do. The International Festival is the perfect way to come together as a family and celebrate the diversity of our school.”
According to 2019 Festival Co-chair, Amy Moskowitz, MCA Social Studies teacher for grades 7 and 8, “MCA is so full of diversity, to be able to celebrate it is exciting. Our scholars are curious about their fellow classmates and their cultures. Unfortunately, we are not always comfortable enough to ask. The International Festival gives families the ability to learn about those other families within our community in a fun, judgement-free environment.”
The 2nd annual International Festival will be held on Thursday night, April 25, and even more families are expected to attend this year.  At least 24 different countries will be represented, including India, Japan, Ghana, Jordan and Senegal.  A record number of volunteers have also signed up to help with the evening, further highlighting the importance of this event.
Beginning at 5pm, families will be able to come and enjoy dinner with their MCA family.  Two food trucks will be on site to offer something for the adventurous eater and for those who enjoy their comfort food.  100 East BBQ will provide barbecue, hotdogs, banana pudding and more.  Maki Taco, rated one of Charlotte’s Top 5 Food Trucks, is an Asian Fusion food truck that will offer Japanese Hibachi and Asian-style tacos.   
In addition to tables showcasing the food, clothing and other cultural offerings of the countries represented at MCA, there will be some new additions to this year’s festival.  MCA’s technology teacher, Mr. Osborne, will host a “tech and learning” table where visitors can explore the different countries represented at the festival using “Google Earth” as well as try their hand at various language-learning apps that are available to families on their smartphones.
Other learning opportunities will include a table hosted by MCA’s English Language Learners teachers, Ms. Kingston and Ms. Walters. These teachers, whose days are enriched with a variety of languages and cultures, are looking forward to showcasing the work they do with our students.  Each day, they equip them with the ability to listen to understand, to fluently speak the English language, to comprehend what they read and to write with meaningful vocabulary. Ms. Walters shared that MCA is “fortunate to have a diverse population of students and that the International Festival is a fun way to bring these cultures together and celebrate who we are as a community!”
Weather permitting, outdoor activities will offer families a lot of fun as well.  Adults and kids will enjoy international games led by P.E. teacher and Athletic Director, Michelle Pullen. Emily Campbell, 3rd grade teacher, is also expected to offer an African drumming workshop in addition to leading her student drum ensemble in entertaining the crowd during the evening.
Middle School Dean, Marsha Thomas, a native of Jamaica and Spanish speaker, reflected on the significance of this school-wide experience. "Out of many, we are still one people.  Our daily walk and talk exemplify what we have learned to become in order to be a light in the community as builders for our next generation.  The more we connect together like pieces of a puzzle or like a knitted quilt, our separate, individual pieces become a united comfort. This is what the International Festival contributes to our community.”


Contact International Festival co-chair Joy Mast at with questions or to join the team of volunteers!