Groton students warmed up a cold and windy winter evening with food, dance, and music, celebrating the school’s fifth Cultural Day, and the first since 2020, on January 14.
Groton Cultural Day (GCD) began in 2017, an outcropping of the institutional Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) work that began two years prior. COVID precautions canceled the event in 2021 and 2022, and students seemed eager to join together once again in the spirit of understanding and acceptance.
“GCD is a celebration of the various cultures—both local and global—that make up our community. It is a time when students share customs, traditions, food, games, national or regional dress, and identity with the community,” said Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and English Department Head Sravani Sen-Das. “I see it as a time to learn about and enjoy different traditions and cultures, and to celebrate the rich diversity of our school.”
As the evening started, the sound of Caribbean steel drums echoed through the Schoolhouse’s Sackett Forum. Two floors were set up with tables for the countries students identified with, either through birth or heritage. Hosts wore clothing from their country, ranging from traditional garb to national team soccer jerseys.
Students walked between tables with pretend passports, earning a stamp if they could answer trivia about each country, and completed passports were entered into a prize raffle at the end of the night. Wrong or right, they also enjoyed traditional food and drink (and lots of candy) from around the world.
It was crowded in the best possible way, with a spirit of multiculturalism that underscored the rainbow of identities and backgrounds that call Groton home.
Groton Cultural Day is a joint effort by the Student Activities Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Group, along with various other campus cultural groups, with the guidance of Director of Student Activities Tim LeRoy and World Language Department Head and ICAP (International Community Advising Program) Advisor Rebecca Stanton.
The evening’s midway point featured student performances of songs and music from Africa (Afrika Gaye '24, Ebun Lawore '24, and Luisa Garciarramos Petricioli '24) and Asia (Brittany Deng '24 and Brenda Li '25).
Finally, the Boston Bollywood group performed a dance routine so common in the Indian film industry and that region’s popular culture, before switching places with their audience and inviting the students to the Forum floor to try some moves for themselves.
The students and their new teachers went step by step through a Bollywood take on the Macarena, adding music every few moves until the routine was complete.
With full bellies and some apprehension from the non-dancers in the crowd, the results were a bit awkward at first. But, as the instructor counted down one last time, this group of so many different faces came together in a sea of swaying hips and smiles to move together as one.