Here at Chamblee Charter High School, we take pride in our ethnically diverse student body. As a celebration of this diversity, members of the International Club host a major event that is growing exponentially in popularity: the International Festival.
The annual International Festival took place this year on Friday, April 13, 2018, featuring performances, activities booths, and food from a variety of different cultures.
Junior Sonia Karsan, Vice President of the International Club, believes the festival was a huge success this year.
“I was so happy when I saw how many people had come to the festival this year,” said Karsan. “We had a great turnout.”
Biology teacher and International Club Sponsor Shaheen Begum estimates that 300 to 350 students attended, which is a major increase from last year.
“I’m hoping the crowd will get bigger and bigger in the coming years,” said Begum.
Similarly to last year’s festival, a variety of activities were available for students to enjoy. Performances from dance groups and a fashion show featuring some of Chamblee’s own took place in the auditorium.
“I walked in the fashion show and wore a hanbok, which is traditional Korean clothing,” said sophomore Rachel Choi, an officer of International Club.
In the gym and gym lobby, food from all around the world and booths showcasing different cultures engaged the festival-goers.
“My officers and I reached out to different clubs at the school to set up booths that were focused on culture,” said Begum.
Among the clubs that contributed were United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Club, Distributive Education Clubs of America, Anatomy Club, and more. Each club contributed something different to the festival, such as a particular food or cultural activity.
Layla Dhabaan, an officer of International Club and President of the UNICEF Club, helped to set up two booths for the festival.
“I organized a henna booth with International Club as as the President of UNICEF Club, the other officers and I set up a bracelet-making booth to fund for children in war-torn Syria.”
One key difference between the International Festival last year and the festival this year was the organization and location of the event itself, which contributed largely to its improved success. Begum believes that the additional space was a significant contribution.
“Ms. Braaten was very supportive in allowing us to use the upper track in the gym to spread our food out, and I’m very grateful for that because it was getting too cramped,” said Begum.
In the future, Begum and the officers of International Club have some ideas that they believe will make the festival an ever larger success.
“In general, I think our goal as a club would be to outperform what we did this year,” said Karsan.
Extending beyond just club members, Begum would like the entire student body to get involved in the festivities during the week leading up to the festival.
“I’d like to have all the students dress up all five days days of the week, each day wearing clothing from a different continent,” said Begum.
She also hopes to have an assembly during the school day, so that all students are able to participate in this celebration of diversity.
“We really want all of the students to be exposed to the different cultures, even if they just watch the performances during an assembly,” said Begum.
Another one of Begum’s goals is to convince the officers, club members, and other students at Chamblee to participate in performances.
“I would love for the students to come forward to show their talents and express a love for their cultures in the performances,” said Begum.
Saif Ahmed, senior and President of the International Club, took a more passive role in the planning of the festival this year, at Begum’s request, in order to let some of the younger officers practice organizing such an event and to get a feel for their positions. And ultimately, it was a huge success.
“I’m going to graduate, but I know I leave the club in more than capable hands and I’m excited to see it grow even more in the years to come,” said Ahmed.