WALLINGFORD — Families were able to “travel” around the world during the seventh annual International Celebration hosted by the Spanish Community of Wallingford and the Wallingford Public Schools.
Tables set up outside and inside the SCOW building represented a variety of countries such as Morocco, China, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Mexico, India, Italy, Uruguay and others.
“Over 600 people attended the 7th Annual International Celebration event representing over 17 countries,” said Adriana Rodríguez, executive director at SCOW. “It was truly a wonderful evening celebrating diversity.”
Just like last year, children were given a “passport” and each table they visited would stamp it. The activity gives students the illusion of traveling around the world, learning about different cultures.
“Wallingford families are the heart of this event. They share their love for their country of origin with the greater community through cultural artifacts, cuisine, and music,” said Sarah Fallahi, bilingual teacher at Stevens Elementary School. “Their pride shines through in all of their interactions with guests. They answer questions, teach words from their native language, display information, and enrich the community through their unique perspective.”
Stephen Barbour, teacher at Moran Middle School, cooked Peruvian food for his table. Causa de atún y pollo (tuna and chicken) was available for guests to try.
Barbour has always loved Peruvian food, but it was when he got married that he learned how to cook the country’s traditional dishes.
“I met my wife in Perú,” he said. “Then my in-laws taught me how to cook. They own their own restaurant in Lima.”
Daisy Lopez, program director at SCOW, said each year the families go above and beyond. This year, Turkey needed four tables.
Afsheen Kashif and Kashif Akbar were at the event representing Pakistan, marking their third year having a table at the event. This year, the married couple brought a traditional dish of white rice with black chickpeas.
“In our country, food is what brings us together,” Kashif said. ‘So we wanted to share our food with the community.”
At another table, plantains, flan, and coconut soda were shared so that guests could get a taste of Puerto Rico.
“I was born in New York but my family is from Puerto Rico,” said Gil Cappola, ESL teacher at Dag Hammarskjold Middle School. “I would go every summer when I was young and I wanted to share our culture with the students.”
Wallingford resident Norma Garcia attended the event with her friend Lucy Perez and Perez’s three-year-old daughter Sophia Ruiz. The three enjoyed trying the different cuisines at the celebration.
During the event, SCOW’s folkloric dance group, Alma de Mexico, performed three songs when it started to rain.
That didn’t stop the celebration, and attendees made their way inside to watch SCOW’s Mariachi Los Laureles del Monte perform.
Community partners who participated in the event included the Wallingford Police Department, Wallingford Fire Department, Wallingford Public Library, and local artist Rashmi Talpade.
“It’s been beautiful to watch this event evolve over the past seven years,” Christine Olt, EL teacher at Lyman Hall High School, said. “Each year, new families join while many families have consistently participated for years. The community’s continued commitment allows us to keep improving and expanding each year.”