Grade Ten Culture Shock

MC40_StJosephLast year in Grade 10 I had my first taste of multi culturalism in my very own school. A lot of people describe Canada as a salad bowl not a melting pot, I agree with them. This year in my first semester of Grade 10 I had signed up for Culture shock. Culture Shock is similar to Carassauga. It is an annual festival held by St.Joseph Secondary School to celebrate the cultures and nationalities of the world.

This festival gave the students a chance to embrace and celebrate the multi-culturalsim in our school by showcasing their cultural dishes, traditional clothes, dance and music. I for one completely embraced my Indian nationality. I was not afraid to say that I loved Biryani, Gulab Jamun and Channa and Puri. I was proud to be Indian. So when I had signed up for this, I signed myself up to bring a traditional Indian dish and participate in the cultural performance.

On the day of Culture Shock it was amazing. Everyone had tried my mom’s special homemade Channa and Puris. By midway all my mom’s crispy fried puris and all the chana was finished. That was a surprise, because some people even recognized what the dish was even without asking. Moreover, I did not really think that so many cultures of the world would be represented. I had a feeling that maybe five or six dominant cultures would be displayed. However, there were many unique stalls displayed all around the atrium and cafeteria. It really opened my eyes; my school was a small scale model of Canada; a richly populated and diverse country. It’s not only Canadians but there is French, British, Indian, Chinese, Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Italian, Kenyan, Jamaican, Polish, Portuguese, Scottish, Irish, Croatian, Arabic, Pakistani and Sri Lankan.

I do not think if I went anywhere else in the world, I could find so many countries all under one roof. During the festival we had a flag bearing ceremony and then an evening filled with different cultural performances. The India pavilion’s cultural performance was going to involve Bollywood dancing to a remix of Mehboob mere, Mashallah, Sheila ki Jawani, and Boli Pani.

When we got up on that stage I was so nervous. I was not ready to dance in front of my whole school. I knew all the steps, but I was afraid that everyone would laugh at me. But when the music started and my group started dancing, I could not help but smile. The crowd’s reaction was amazing. Some people even began to dance and it was fun. As we did our grand finale Boli Pani, which involved doing bhangra, the crowd erupted into applause and cheer for us. Everyone loved it. At that moment in my life, I felt empowered and proud of myself. On that day I also learned a very important lesson: Canada, our friends, our schools and our communities can be so vastly different yet at the same time we can still be the same because we share the same appreciation of diversity.

- Richa in Mississauga

Editor’s Note:  The five recipients of this year’s Seva Fellowship, a program for young aspiring leaders in the Peel Region of Ontario, each wrote a story as part of their fellowship program.  Their contributions are grouped together here.