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Midvale Journal

Living Traditions Night brings the world to East Midvale

Jun 15, 2020 11:29AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

East Midvale third-grader Vee Galley loves dancing so when she could learn a traditional dance from India for her school’s cultural night, she was excited.

“I practiced three times after school with the school dance team,” she said. “We wore scarves, bracelets and jingles.”

East Midvale Elementary’s 12th annual Living Traditions night celebrates some of the school’s 550 students who come from at least 25 countries, said Principal Matt Nelson.

“The Living Traditions festival is done to celebrate diversity and learn about other cultures and countries,” Nelson said. “With 13 different languages spoken at East Midvale, the Living Traditions festival gives everyone at the school, especially the students, a chance to see their cultures, countries, and unique heritages displayed and celebrated.”

The festival selects countries around the world to focus on; this year, it highlights those cultures of East Midvale students, said Shelley McCall, East Midvale community school facilitator, who coordinates the week-long activities that cumulate into a family night full of music, dancing and activities.

For example, Living Traditions night entertainment was provided by students and families, including dances from Samoa, Tonga, India, Mexico and two from the Congo.

The festival includes classroom activities during the week as each grade level selects countries and students learn about those during the week. During the Living Traditions night, students’ artwork and research is displayed and families are given a passport to fill out about what they learned.

For example, kindergarten students studied Thailand and families needed to learn how many islands make up Thailand and what is the most visited city in the world, which is in the country. At the first-grade Venezuela and Guatemala display, which included artwork of children in colorful traditional costumes, families could learn important landmarks in both countries. Second-graders could share what the most popular sports and which languages are spoken in the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Third-graders had a display about Iran and Iraq, which included a huge map on the wall and some popular food dishes.

“They eat different food and speak different languages, but they play games like us, like soccer,” Vee said. 

Student Sariah Wagner, who also is on the school’s dance team, also appreciated learning about Iran and Iraq.

“I have friends in my class from Iran, and I learned about the Arabic language,” she said, adding that “I liked all the dancing. It was fun.”

Fourth-grade students presented a display on Tonga and Samoa and in the passport, asked what the name of Samoa was before July 4, 1997 and how many people live on the islands of Tonga. Fifth-graders’ display was the USA, and in the passport, asked questions from which amendment is the favorite in the Bill of Rights to what is something that they appreciate about living in the states.

There also were family crests displayed, where students showed what is important to their family and what they liked to do together.

Adults in attendance supported this event and what their children are learning.

Sariah’s mother, Stephanie, said this is important that families come to support the night’s activities.

“It’s great to celebrate the different cultures here,” she said. “There is so much diversity in the kids who attend East Midvale, it’s important that they learn about one another and appreciate it.”

Vee’s dad, Seth, said through this, they are gaining a bigger picture.

“The students are learning about other countries and cultures and it lets them know there is more out there than this community, that they have to understand one another to have tolerance in the world,” he said.

Third-grade teacher Sarah England said that many of her students shared their cultures with others.

“It’s fun to see where they lived and what life is like where they were living,” she said. “This is a nice way to celebrate our students from all over the world and for everyone to realize the expanse of the world.”