Multicultural Fair 2018: JAPAN, Tradition Meets Modern

by Miya Y., Multicultural Fair Committee co-chair 2017-18

On Friday, April 6, 2018, St. B’s boys celebrated Japan with the annual multicultural fair.  Boys received their customized multicultural fair passports and took a trip to Japan, embracing this year’s themes of matsuri (festival) and old meets new Japan.  

There were many events that led up to the fun day, such as folding 1,000 paper cranes that will be sent to Hiroshima to represent a wish for peace from our boys, a Junior and Middle School combined assembly to preview some aspects of the fair, and plenty of curriculum about Japan which was taught in Junior, Middle, and Upper schools including geography, history, language, crafts, art, and music. 

On the Thursday before the fair, Chef Wells and her team prepared a delicious Japanese lunch for the entire school, and the dining hall was transformed with fresh cherry blossoms and Japanese decorations to help set the mood for the fair.  Chopsticks were provided for those boys who were up to the challenge of eating their lunch in twenty minutes with chopsticks!
Friday, April 6, was a day of excitement as the boys entered the school to the sounds and sights of Japan.  Koto musician, Masayo Ishigure, performed in the lobby and greeted the boys as they went to their classrooms and then to assembly.  The boys entered the small gym to the sounds of the koto and to the sight of a beautiful piece of art made by Mr. Sechrist with help from the Upper School boys.   Mr. Johnson opened the assembly with an explanation of the matsuri (regional festivals of Japan) and the mikoshi (portable shrine), as they were the main themes of the fair.  The alligator skit was performed by II Thomas and kept with the theme of Japan as the boys described how the alligator had traveled to Japan over spring break!  Directed by Mrs. Fertel, the boys then sang Sakura, a traditional Japanese song.  The boys had practiced the song for weeks, and their lovely singing was accompanied beautifully by the koto.  In addition, Mr. Demeny spoke with the boys about the Daruma doll, a wishing doll which encourages perseverance and hard work, followed by Mr. Johnson, who had the honor of filling in one eye of the Daruma with a wish for the school.  Everyone then enjoyed watching a video of several St. B’s boys interviewing their teachers who had traveled to Japan.  The video also included a short clip on how Japanese students serve lunch and clean their own schools, and a multimedia collage of modern and traditional Japan.  The last half of the assembly was filled with performances, including a Samurai performance by Samurai Sword Soul, Japanese Taiko drummers from Soh Daiko, and a traditional Japanese festival dance performed by the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York.
At the fair the boys took their passports to get stamped at different stations as they tried the many activities offered to them, including Japanese calligraphy, playing the koto, dressing up in traditional clothing, making Pikachu origami, among many others.  There was a Judo demonstration by Shintaro Higashi and St. B’s boy Ray M. as well as a Japanese calligraphy artist, Taisan Tanaka, creating large floor calligraphy, and of course, the much revered Mikoshi on display for the boys to take in.  The room was decorated with large, red, hanging panels, almost as if they were in a scene from a movie, and the boys enjoyed fun activities and read about traditional and modern Japan, geography, landmarks, and sports.  Many boys enjoyed making their own regional festival dance hats and used them to dance with the professional dancers whom they had seen on stage at assembly.  We hope you also got to see a glimpse of the sumo cutout photos that the boys enjoyed with their friends.    
This fair would not have been possible without the many parent volunteers who helped, many of whom donated countless hours of their time over several days.  Many thanks to the maintenance staff, security, administration, and technology department who made the vision of the fair come to life, to Chef Wells and her team who offered a culinary trip to Japan, and to all of the faculty members who were so eager to contribute by teaching our boys, preparing them on all things Japan, as well as working on crafts with them, and to Mr. Schwarz and Ms. Navarre who expanded the boys’ imagination of Japan through the reading and displaying of books on Japan in the library.  A special thank you to Madame Boyer-Robert, the faculty advisor who coordinated the curriculum and guided and supported the Japanese parent team every step of the way. 
The Parents Association Multicultural Fair committee co-chairs, Mika B. and Miya Y., deserve recognition for everything they did to make this day so memorable for the entire school community.  St. B’s extends special thanks to Mika, Miya, and the Parents Association.