COLONIE: Global view

On Saturday, March 31, more than 2,500 North Colonie elementary students got a snapshot of 30 world cultures at the International Festival held at Shaker High School.

Every other year, the school's American Field Service and International clubs host the event, which brings examples of the food, language and culture of the area's diverse population to the student body.

Last weekend was the fourth International Festival, which is put on by volunteer language art students from Shaker junior and high schools. They set up booths representing different countries and stamp the passports of elementary students who visit.

"Each booth is different. Some display different costumes, some have different foods from that country, some have crafts," said Galina Kats, foreign language department supervisor for the district. "All of our foreign language clubs and classes participate."

The March event marks the end of National Foreign Language Month, said Kats.

For weeks, students have been engaged in classroom activities and work to commemorate the month and get a taste of the large and very successful language program in the school's upper levels, she said.

Area families and students have always jumped at the opportunity to showcase their cultures.

As students arrived Saturday at 11 a.m., they received their mock passports and began their journey through the hallways and maze of cultural booths. They made crafts, played games and learned some words and the ways of the cultures through interviewing the booths' proprietors.

The students participated in several scheduled events, such as music activities and traditional dance presentations. It's a way to expand on the school's language program that focuses on five languages, German, Spanish, Russian, French and Latin, and give younger students the opportunity to see how people live in the multitude of countries that speak the languages, Kats said.

"This year was probably one of the best years. We had a lot more people than expected," said Sophia Abassi, 17, a senior at Shaker High School. "My booth had facts about Italy, two different kinds of pasta and cheese. It was a popular booth."

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