The Annual Ethnic Festival and World Languages Day has been an integral part of District 97 for almost 40 years. While the Multicultural Center/Department has developed materials, lessons and presentations that teach our staff and students about the great diversity that makes up humanity (race, gender, gender identity, LGBT, people with disabilities, religions and other belief systems, etc.), the Ethnic Festival has been used to highlight the wonderful cultural differences that make us who we are as well. 

These characteristics and qualities span those issues (which are not culturally specific). It gives us a chance to see aspects of root cultures from around the world that have helped shape our language, traditions, clothing, foods, music, and so much more. Our national motto is E pluribus unum (out of many, one). Ethnic Festival and World Languages Day highlights those aspects of America’s heritage, but does not purport to be everything.

Ethnic Fest gives our community a chance to see and/or participate in cultural dances; to taste ethnic cuisines; and learn about the games, art and music of traditional cultures from around the world with people from those cultures. It gives our neighbors who are from those cultures the chance to celebrate and share their heritages as part of the greater “American” culture with their neighbors and friends. This helps promote respect and appreciation for all community members. 

At the same time, all groups supporting diversity are invited and welcome to participate in the parade and to sponsor activities at Ethnic Fest, promoting cultural understanding, respect for diversity and having fun together.

The Ethnic Festival and World Languages Day will take place on Saturday, May 5, beginning with the Ethnic Fest Parade at 10 a.m., followed by festivities at Julian Middle School.

Lynn Allen

Former director, Multicultural Education Department

Oak Park Elementary School District 97

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