Chào, Shalom, Namaste, Halo, Salam, Ola, Marhaba were the words of the day at Hello! West Hartford’s Year in ‘Revue’ Cultural Celebration.
The sixth Year in “Revue” for Hello! West Hartford was held on Monday, April 24, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at West Hartford Town Hall, with a larger-than-ever crowd in attendance for this amazing celebration.
The celebration featured students from a variety of public and private schools, dance schools, and many cultural organizations. Performers included student musicians from Conard, Hall, Charter Oak, Unified Theater – IEA & NWC, Trinity Samba Ensemble, Irish, Nepali and Peruvian dancers, and East Culture Arts. Performers also included CT Arte y Cultura del Peru (Peruvian dancers) and Nzinga’s Daughters, as well as a Nepali Fashion Show.
Restaurants throughout town shared their delicacies so residents could sample the many flavors of West Hartford.
Local dignitaries including Mayor Shari Cantor, State Rep. Derek Slap, and Jonathan Harris welcomed the crowd and shared how they value the rich international representation within West Hartford’s borders.
Hello! West Hartford recognized three individuals for their dedicated six years of support: Jen Evans, executive director of WHC-TV which serves as media sponsor; Jill O’Donnell from The Intensive Education Academy; and Dawa Lama, a dancer who promotes her Nepali culture.
This was the third year that Hello! West Hartford has awarded the Dr. Karen L. List Global Ambassador award. West Hartford Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore welcomed two amazing women to the stage. The students, Grace Andrews from Conard High School and Yasmin Albur from Hall High School, both demonstrated how they promote and embrace the West Hartford global community and connect to the town’s diverse cultures.
Albur demonstrated her willingness to share her Sudanese Culture through being an active member of the Hall Multicultural Club, and in initiatives for global aid. Albur shared how she was touched by the tolerance and respect her family was given when first moving to West Hartford just two years ago. She has also helped to educate West Hartford teachers by providing a Muslim student’s perspective at Hall. Albur also helped organize a rally at Blue Back Square against changes in the immigration laws. She believes our biggest challenge is cross cultural communication and wishes the cultural groupings would begin to dissipate and people would risk going outside of their comfort zone.
Andrews has demonstrated an eagerness toward learning about other cultures and in actively sharing her own Bolivian culture. She is involved in Model UN, and completed the UConn Human Rights Training to become a moderator. She has instigated discussion on topics such as non-discrimination, civil and political rights, and social and cultural rights. She enjoys topics that open minds and connect students to other’s perspectives. Andrews said she feels the West Hartford schools’ diversity is an asset by providing the opportunity to have peers from all over the world, although she also thinks our biggest challenge is the segregation in the student body. She works daily to eliminate the exclusion and suppression of differences and to promote and embrace cultural diversity in our town.
The event was rich in costume, cultural displays, music, food and dance. People could learn about different traditions and see how we all celebrate through dance and song.
“I was touched how complete silence took over the room for the singing of the National Anthem by Samantha Acosta from Hall High. Never have the lyrics meant so much to me as I looked over the wonderful array of countries represented in our Town Hall,” said Clare Taylor Neseralla, communications director of Hello! West Hartford.
The event closed with Kate Callahan, Connecticut’s state troubadour, singing two patriotic melodies on Connecticut and our nation.
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