Gate City Charter Academy invited parents, staff, and students to come celebrate at the second annual multicultural fair and exhibition. Graham Helsabeck, English language learner (ELL) teacher at Gate City, launched the culture fair last year with the help of Knick Dixon. He also worked in collaboration with Chris Hall, art teacher at Gate City, who brought in the artwork exhibition aspect of the show.
This time around, Karen Waters, ELL teacher at Gate City, was instrumental in planning and executing the event, and helped students create presentations, brochures, and announcements.
Waters also presented detailed background information about the slave trade, and the origins of African American culture in the United States.
The fair doubled in size compared to last year in having 20 cultural booths, including Nigeria, Acapulco, Oaxaca, Brazil, Russia, Sudan, Honduras, Africa, Ghana, Mexico, Laos, Cambodia, Togo, and Sierra Leone.
“The reason I wanted to begin this project was because I saw how happy it made folks to share their culture with people who knew little about it,” said Helsabeck. “Tapping into authentic passion is essential for students to find joy in learning, and I think it can be said that one brief spark can launch a perpetual flame in a scholar’s mind.”
Helsabeck received excellent feedback from students.
“It is important to learn about different people so that I understand them. If we learn about countries and states and people, it will protect them from hatred,” said Leonardo Toledo de Jesús. Another student, KyAsia King, wrote, “What means the most to me is when people are smiling, happy, and having fun sharing the artwork and the beautiful dancing!”
Additionally, Gate City auctioned off cultural artwork and artifacts to raise money for the school and hosted three student-led performances.