Liberty students, locals put heritage on display at culture fair
Liberty Middle School seventh-grader Abby Phillips lights up as she talks about Thailand's clothing, food and culture. In the 1960s, Phillips' grandmother moved from Thailand to the United States in search of a better life.
Phillips got a chance to tell the story of her family and her country of heritage Feb. 7 during Liberty's culture fair in the Hartl Ag Building at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds.
"I think it's very cool," Phillips said. "I think it's pretty cool how we can learn about each other more and more rather than not knowing who they really are and what culture they came from."
Liberty seventh-grade English language teacher Aimee Volk assigned her students to do projects about countries they have roots in to prepare for this fair. The research and other work gave the students a chance to learn more about their own cultures and immigration.
"As we've been learning about our own families, we've also been learning about others," Volk said. "This has kind of been our celebration day where it's learning about everyone else and how we're all connected."
With so much diversity at Liberty, Volk said, she wanted a way for the students to find common ground and prove they're all connected by going to school together, no matter where their families are from.
"We all have a spot to shine today," Volk said. "They're proud of their boards and who they are, and they want to share that with the community and to learn about others."
Volk said about 35 countries were represented with one student assigned to their own country of origin. All of the students were responsible for their own projects, Volk said, which were to revolve around their family heritage, culture and traditions. The fair also included other projects and displays from other local people and groups from other cultures as well as an orchestra and several art projects.
The students were assigned to interview at least two family members over the holiday break, and Volk said during that time, many students found out details or stories about their loved ones they hadn't known before.
"No matter where they're from, they all immigrated here," Volk said. "So that's a connection we all have."
Seventh-grader Cullen McCarthy, who focused his project on Ireland, said he hadn't known his ancestors came to the United States in the late 1800s during the Irish potato famine.
While he learned about his own heritage during weeks of research, he and the other students also went around and checked out the other displays to learn about their classmates' roots.
"It's cool to have them know about your country and how they lived before you came here," McCarthy said. "It's cool to know another person and people I don't really know a lot about."