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May 25, 2022

School District’s Multicultural Fair Draws Hundreds, Rave Reviews

Students and their parents got a blast of culture from around the globe Sunday at Vine Hill Elementary School.

Organizers estimated more than 500 people turned out for the inaugural Scotts Valley Unified Multicultural Fair.

Attendees passed food trucks serving an array of dishes, before arriving at the main stage, where performers representing Cuba, Bali, Ukraine, Senegal—and more—were set to dance and play a variety of instruments.

Children received a blank “passport” to get stamped at booths representing various countries.

Evan Siroky stood in front of the Brazil table as his 4-year-old daughter, Autumn, squeezed glue onto a semi-circle that used to be a paper plate, to make a Carnival mask.

“It’s great it’s happening,” he said of the event, adding he enjoyed that there was “lots of stuff going on—lots of diversity.”

At the next booth over, Henrik Ingesson, a parent of a Vine Hill fourth-grader and a Scotts Valley Middle School sixth-grader, was dishing out insight into Scandinavian culture at the Sweden table.

“I kind of got roped into it,” he said, but added he’s glad he chose to participate. “It’s been great. Everyone’s been so nice and curious about Sweden.”

Over the loudspeaker came a woman’s voice, “People, please keep our hearts open to every culture,” followed by a man’s, “We hope you join us again next year.”

Noriko Arai, and daughter Karen, who’s in sixtg grade at Scotts Valley Middle, were teaching festivalgoers about Japanese calligraphy.

Noriko said people were excited about their interactive display.

“Today was very busy,” she said, adding the parents and students seemed genuinely interested in learning more about their culture. “Everyone said it was cool.”

It was Yuki Hashiguchi-Rosoff, the parent of two Vine Hill students and a Scotts Valley Middle student, who’d asked the Arai family to participate.

Hashiguchi-Rosoff used to work as a teacher in Japan, Colorado and New Jersey.

Since she moved to Scotts Valley, she’s been volunteering her time to do Japanese culture presentations here.

She was thrilled to hear Vine Hill would be hosting a Multicultural Fair and jumped at the chance to take part.

The children loved the booth, she said, noting about 140 people wrote their name in ink in Japanese with the large brush.

“This is wonderful,” she said.

Over at the Korea booth, Rosa Lee, the parent of two Scotts Valley Unified School District students, was cleaning up trays of cultural treats that had been reduced to crumbs.

“The turnout was really amazing,” she said, adding the event had positively shattered many people’s expectations. “Everyone was saying how surprised they were … When they got here it was way more of a production than they expected.”

Their table featured snacks like the marshmallow-based choco pie and rice cakes, which she says were a hit.

Her daughter Frances, a Brook Knoll Elementary School student, was playing a traditional Korean game called ddakji, made globally famous by the Netflix series Squid Game.

Ashley Perlitch Alvarez, one of the main organizers of the Multicultural Fair, said she was pleased with the outcome.

“It went so good,” she said, adding that despite the last-minute nature of the event, a lot of parents were eager to participate. “All of our booths were family-run.”

Maria Torchio-Gauthier, said it was great to see the Multicultural Fair come to fruition.

“It’s been a dream of ours,” she said. “It’s just been wonderful to watch.”

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]

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