The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on our lives, forcing us to distance ourselves from others and, in some instances, disconnect from our cultural identities. However, as we return to normal social activities, the BBHS Multicultural Club’s international potluck provided a much-needed opportunity for our community to reconnect. This potluck not only allowed us to appreciate and experience different cultures through food, but it also served as a way to pummel through the barriers in our society and assist with the unification of the community. Alicia Wang, one of the contributors of the potluck, said, “it is good because everyone can learn a different culture’s food especially after the pandemic,” which perfectly describes the entire purpose of the potluck. The International Potluck event organized by Neena Bhanti, the Multicultural Club advisor and Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher in the Middle School, showcased the diversity in our community and provided an inclusive environment for all students to come together and explore each other’s cultures.
An international potluck is a celebration of diversity, food, and community in which everyone brings a food that is representative of their culture or ethnicity. Similar to the first potluck in history that occurred during the Great Depression, this international potluck served as a way for people to connect through partaking in dishes made by others. Everyone is encouraged to try a little bit of everything, and as people discover new dishes and learn more about each other’s cultures. It is important to be educated about other cultures in order to have respectful interactions and celebrate differences. The international potluck hosted in our commons on April 17th also helped us to recognize the often underestimated diversity in our community. Grace Cassese, an Italian English teacher, who cooked lasagna for the potluck, explained, “I like that they are doing something like this to show how diverse the community is.” The potluck had an astounding 38 different groups that contributed their food from countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Argentina, Hungary, Israel, and Italy. This potluck was the perfect opportunity to “become familiar with other cultures that are a part of the school district,” as described by Myram DeBiase.
Each table offered many different types of food from the country represented. All of the contributors to the potluck came dressed in different wardrobes that represented their country. For example, the nine women who contributed to the Brazilian table wore green and yellow, the national colors of Brazil, and clothing with the Brazilian flag on it. The Argentinian families wore Argentinian soccer jerseys, and some of the children even wore huge soccer balls on their heads. The pride and patriotism raging through the Commons at BBHS were truly inspiring as it encouraged everyone there to be adventurous and dive into new cultures. Luciana Melo from the Brazil table happily stated that she was brought to the potluck to share her culture and “Brazil’s amazing food.” The accessibility to other customs was just another thing on the long list of benefits that came from the international potluck that, hopefully, will become an annual occurrence at Blind Brook.
Bhanti’s vision of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students to come together and explore each other’s cultures was beautifully realized. She emphasized the importance of the event in wake of the pandemic, as it allowed students to experience the world’s diverse cultures without the need for travel. During the potluck, Bhanti reminisced about a past project where her former students had created a recipe book that shared amazing stories about their families and recipes. This project inspired Bhanti to take things to the next level and bring it outside of the FACS classroom, and now the whole community can explain their families and their recipes. The eighth-grade FACS project, which required students to ask their family members for family recipes, left a significant impression on the participants, as it helped them reconnect with their cultures and families.