While the world wrestles with differences that divide people, Central Valley Academy has found a way to celebrate those differences. Each spring, students and staff host Diversity Day.
CVA’s Alliance Group, Foreign Language Club, and cafeteria staff join forces to explore new ideas and to learn about other cultures and beliefs through food, displays, and activities. Food Service Director Barb Cristman and her staff offered up crepes, churros, and breakfast burritos in the morning. By lunchtime, the cafeteria was transformed into a cultural market with flags from all over the globe. Students visited food stations, sampling Asian spring rolls, Mediterranean grape leaves, and Indian chicken tikka masala. As Asian, Latin, African music played in the background, they tried their hands at making paper flowers, puzzle pieces and origami. They visited displays that offered an understanding of the five major world religions population, autism, and LGBTQ history. Others displayed various interpretive artwork and masks.
Diversity Day is the brainchild of school social worker Nicole Rocci. With the help of Spanish teacher Andrea Donahue and the cafeteria staff, the day has become an annual event.
“We have no budget for something like this, so we truly appreciate those who generously donate to make this possible. The Central Valley Foundation and local businesses, including Minar Indian Cuisine, China Gourmet, Paesano’s Pizzeria and Symeon’s Restaurant helped underwrite our second year,” said Ms. Rocci.
In her role as school social worker, she sees the tension and conflict that can arise when different ideas rub against one another. She said Diversity Day challenges the idea that different is wrong.
“The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing our individual differences,” she said.
“These (differences) can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. Connecting the gap between differences is essential for peace, stability and development.”