Diversity on full display at Masuk’s 2024 Culture Fair

MONROE, CT — Masuk High School celebrated its diverse school community with its annual Culture Fair on Wednesday. Students showcased over 30 booths representing the countries of their heritage during all three lunch waves, when the cafeteria offered chicken shawarma, empanadas, kielbasa with sauerkraut and French crepes among the ethnic fare.

Students sat at flag-decorated tables and could walk around and learn about their friends’ unique heritages. Many booths offered snacks, candy or baked goods that one can only discover at an ethnic deli.

The majority of participating students proudly wore traditional attire. This colorful celebration ended with a 45-minute long cultural talent show in the gym. Students and faculty admired a traditional Indian dance, cultural fashion show, Chinese Wushu Martial Arts forms performance, solo and duet singing in French and Italian, and participated in a soccer juggling contest.

“This was our 3rd Annual event and it has grown every year, in participation and popularity,” said Assistant Principal Ian Lowell. “So many of our students and staff tell me that this is their favorite day of the year. As I told the students today, Masuk is a special place because we come from so many different cultures and traditions.”

Assistant Principal Ian Lowell makes sure the event goes smoothly.

“I was so impressed with the enthusiasm and support students showed for one another,” he said. “Students shared lifelong memories, skills, and traditions. I learned about the cuisine of Paraguay and witnessed the demonstration of Chinese Martial Arts. Our students have such amazing talents! Our parents too are so supportive and many went above and beyond to support our celebration. We cannot thank them enough.”

“While today’s event was a showcase for our cultural pride and uniqueness, we share much in common too,” Lowell added. “We are all Masuk Panthers who stick together and are always there to pick each other up. That was on full display today!”

Daniel Kocan, a freshman at Masuk said, “representing Ukraine at the culture fair with Nikol Kupieieva and Emily Barnhart was a great experience. I brought my Bandura to the fair, a Ukrainian folk instrument with around 55-60 strings, and it is a strong symbol in Ukrainian culture. Numerous students were fascinated by the instrument and listened to me play Ukrainian folk songs like ‘The Cossack Rode Beyond The Danube’, and others.”

“It is really important to present Ukrainian culture to the world,” he said, “especially in these times of struggle. Before the war, many people never even knew Ukraine existed, and this culture fair is a great way to show not only Ukrainian identity to the students but cultures from around the world.”

Daniel Kacan and Nikol Kupieieva.

Rayhaan Shaik, a junior, said, “it is awesome seeing participation in the culture fair grow every year and it was so fun participating in a dance to represent my country of origin, India. The booths at lunch this year were amazing and it felt like I was really traveling to different countries just by going to different booths. I can’t wait to participate next year and see the amazing booths and performances from around the world.”

Natalia DiScala, a Masuk junior said, “doing Argentina again and representing my country was so fun! I loved sharing the Argenitian traditional tea ‘yerba mate’, and also leading the soccer game. It was a great feeling. This is a memory that I won’t forget.”

“This is my freshman year, and getting the chance to participate in the cultural fair was definitely something I look forward to doing again,” said Adrienne Crowley. “This year I helped with the French booth where we did a blind cheese taste test! Everyone who came had so much fun, while learning a little bit about French culture. This was such an amazing day and I can’t wait to celebrate the cultures of Masuk again next year!”

Iga Leszczynska, a French teacher at Masuk, said, “our cultural fair is growing as we see more student involvement every year. The participating students spent hours planning for the event. It was clear that everyone else had fun too. Although lunch is only 20 minutes long, large groups of curious Panthers were coming to see the booths.”

“The performances impressed me,” she added. “It takes lots of courage and talent to entertain a large audience. I am very proud of these students. They stepped out of their comfort zone, put themselves out there … and nailed it!”

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  1. Thank you for covering this story! I’ll be contacting the Masuk AP, who was my former history teacher, to learn how to collaborate now that I am a teacher in Bridgeport. As a person with Nicaraguan roots, I know how powerful an event like this can be.

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