COLONIE: Global view

Abassi, who lives with her mother, a native of Pakistan, in Colonie, helped out with several other booths. She can speak Italian, Arabic and is fluent in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. She studies French at Shaker High School.

Abassi remembers the first International Festival, when she was a sixth grader at Southgate Elementary School.

This year was particularly special for elementary students because the American Field Service Club at Shaker put out a call to local school districts asking them if any of their visiting exchange students would help out. They agreed, said Abassi.

Students had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with students from other countries at the festival.

The festival gives students the opportunity to explore cultures that don't make it into school textbooks, said Kats. It's part of a larger globalization initiative at the school to make an effort to bring the outside world as close to students as possible.

North Colonie's language programs have always been somewhat of a success story in the school as many students take their studies well beyond requirements, said Kats. Each year the number of students that jump at the opportunity to study abroad increases.

This year, high school students who walked through the same booths eight years ago in the first International festival got the chance to visit some of the same countries they represented, she said. This time they did it with real passports in hand.

During February break, three groups of students traveled to Germany, Costa Rica and France. Some of the students who returned volunteered to work a booth.""

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