Holiday season spotlights various cultures in Oak Park

Cultures abound in Diversity and Equity Task Force presentation

Shoshana Medved and Angie Bleau

It’s time for the holidays and at Oak Park there’s more celebration to behold than what may first come to mind. In the Oct. 30 “Friday Connect” slideshow created by the Diversity and Equity Task Force, students showcased their unique cultural experiences. 

“In the United States, there is often an emphasis placed on certain holidays and an assumption that most families celebrate in the same way,” Coordinator for Safety and Equity and head of the task force Holly Baxter wrote to the Talon. “We hope to encourage students to be curious about other traditions and celebrations.”

A variety of students and staff pitched in to help, including senior and Student Culture Subcommittee Task Force member Ellen Lu. She explained the traditions of the Moon Festival, a Chinese holiday that thanks the moon for the autumn harvest and retells the ancestral story of the moon goddess Chang’e . Some of Lu’s favorite celebrations are eating mooncakes and gazing at the moon. 

“The moon is really pretty to look at since it’s the fullest,” Lu said. “[This holiday is] kind of like the Chinese version of Thanksgiving.”

To Lu, understanding and learning about other cultures is absolutely essential. 

“The more you’ve learned, the more you are aware and can be conscious and respectful of people,” Lu said. “It’s good to show students what other kids may celebrate so we can appreciate the differences Oak Park has to offer.”   

Teachers also got involved in the process: Oak Park High School Chinese language teacher Sherry Hung discussed how to create Asian dumplings.  

“I had other teachers commenting to me how wonderful it was to know about my tradition,” Hung wrote to the Talon. “I hope students will be interested in getting to know their neighbors in the community, and appreciate one another’s cultural practices and background…the more we know about our neighbors, the better we get along.”

For those interested in sharing their culture, Baxter highly encourages students to reach out to her at [email protected] with a description of the cultural event, its importance in students’ families and a picture of the celebration. Submissions may be used in slideshows for future presentations.