PIQUA — Piqua Central Intermediate School hosted over 150 students and their family members during their first-ever Celebration of Nations Diversity Night on Monday evening.
“Today we celebrate diversity,” said Veronica Gaier, sixth grade science teacher and one of the organizers for the event. Gaier explained that day was also the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which is a United Nations-sanctioned international holiday with the goal of promoting diversity and another way “to embrace each other.”
Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Company from Cincinnati kicked off the Diversity Night, performing Nigerian dances and songs, a number of which were interactive. Performers gave student volunteers the chance to come up on stage and use different African instruments while they performed.
Bi-Okoto tours and performs in 48 U.S. states, and also have performed internationally at South Korea’s Youth Festival, presidential welcomes in Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and France. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, the company was chosen by United States Armed Forces Entertainment for five-week military tours in the U.K., Norway, The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Company also discussed with students about their home country of Nigeria. Performers said that people in Nigeria speak over 5oo languages, including the Yoruba language that they spoke and sang in Monday evening. The official state language, though, is English due to the British colonizing and unifying southern and northern Nigeria in the 19th century. Nigeria became a formal independent federation in 1960. Other major languages in Nigeria include Hausa and Igbo.
After Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Company’s presentation, the Diversity Night connected students and their families with community members with a heritage or another type of connection to different countries.
Cindy Dobo, owner of Dobo’s Delights, presented on the central European country of Hungary, as she is half Hungarian. Dobo’s father immigrated to the U.S. in 1957, Dobo said.
“They have delicious food,” Dobo said, noting that Hungarians use a lot of paprika in their cooking. “The pastries aren’t as sweet as American pastries, but they have more butter.”
Dobo also showed students photos from her visits to Hungary. “We go back to see family,” she said.
Hungary has a population of approximately 9.8 million people. The capital is Budapest, their currency is the Hungarian forint, and the country’s resources include bauxite, oil, and natural gas.
Scott Bloom, Piqua City Schools’ curriculum director, presented on Native Americans in the district’s Discovery Dome Planetarium, which is one of 140 inflatable, portable planetariums in the country.
Other presenters included Soha Shah, who presented on India, which is located in South Asia. Their language is Indo-Aryan, the population is approximately 1.3 million people, the capital is New Delhi, their currency is the Indian rupee, and their resources include coal, iron ore, and manganese ore.
Sonia Haines presented on Honduras, a republic in Central America. Their language is Spanish, the population is approximately 9.1 million people, Tegucigalpa is the capital, their currency is the Honduran lempira, and their resources include timber, gold, and bananas.
Larry Hamilton presented on Benin, a country in West Africa. Their official language is French, the population is approximately 10.8 million people, Porto-Nova is the capital, the currency is West African franc, and their resources include oil, marble, and limestone.
Dan French presented on China, which is located in east Asia. Their official language is Mandarin, the population is approximately 1.4 billion people, Beijing is the capital, their currency is renminbi.
Gaier said that the event helped teach students something new outside of their city. The program also connected the exploration of the different countries to the school’s social studies program.
Local restaurants including China East, Beppo Uno, and El Herradero donated food and gift certificates for door prizes.
PCIS also received grants and donations from United Way, Unity National Bank, and other sponsors to help the school host its Celebration of Nations.
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