UMASD Hosts 18th ESL Family Night
Over 400 students, families, teachers, administrators, and community members packed Upper Merion Area Middle School’s cafeteria for the Upper Merion Area School District’s 17thAnnual ESL Family Night on Thursday, October 18, 2018. Initiated eighteen years ago practically to the day, the event began as a welcome for international families whose children were learning English as their second language joining the Upper Merion Area School District and community.
ESL Family Night has grown into a celebration of the astounding cultural and linguistic tapestry that Upper Merion Area School District enjoys. Although the number of students who are participating in the English language program is relatively small district wide (approximately 6%), the school district’s population of bilingual students is remarkably high, estimated to be over 30%, hailing from over 75 different countries of origin.
This year those in attendance were treated to the beauty of cultural performances. The Coyle School of Irish Dance followed, boasting 30 years of the celebration of Celtic culture through dance. The final performance of the evening was given by the Folkloric Dance Company Nuevo Mexico, which was created to the renewing and teaching the youth of Philadelphia area the customs and traditions of traditional Mexican folklore, and is directed and choreographed by Mr. Miguel Angel Sigala.
Families contributed traditional cuisine for all to share. Delightful and delectable dishes ranged from Chinese dumplings, to Japanese sushi, to Indian sweets, to an Iraqi dish of seasoned rice and chicken to Spanish Paella.
Finally, during dessert and coffee provided by the school district, those in attendance were treated to the annual moving District “movie” that highlights English learners throughout the previous year from kindergarten through high school in a variety of District initiated events—both educational and social.
As one community member commented, the evening was like a “big, extended family reunion” and “celebrated differences while giving hope of finding peace and unity in a diverse community.”