It was a chance to travel the world without stepping outside the Circle. Groton School’s third annual Cultural Day, on January 26, celebrated our globally diverse student body by transforming the Sackett Forum into a colorful carnival of food, games, music, and dance. The mid-winter tradition has become one of the most anticipated and beloved events of the year.
Students immersed themselves in the cultures of their peers, meandering from table to table and country to country. They sampled spring rolls from Thailand; orange-flavored chocolates from Bulgaria; and koeksisters, a traditional fried dough from South Africa. They tasted Great Britain’s clotted cream, Canada’s poutine, South Korea’s spicy ramen, and Indian samosas. From the Phillipines came paksiw na lechon, a dish of pork, vinegar, and liver; manok ng adobo, chicken with soy sauce and vinegar; and spring rolls known as lumpia. On the menu from Vietnam were crepes known as bánh xèo and a sweet dessert drink known as chè Thái.
Among the other countries offering a tasty taste of their culture were Colombia, Japan, Ghana, China, Peru, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Germany, Jamaica, and Brazil. When the eating paused, some students played unfamiliar games from India and Peru, while others sat patiently as a henna artist decorated their hands.
Food and games weren’t the only attractions: music and dance were center stage throughout the evening, bringing the varied cultures to life. In the first half of the event, a band brought Caribbean flavor to the Forum; during the second half, students performed. Dancers Neha Agarwal '20 and Yumin Shivdasani '20 brought Bollywood to Groton; Ben Reyes '22 sang traditional love songs of the Philippines known as kundiman; Isabel Cai ’21 and Elbereth Chen '21 played the guzheng and erhu respectively, two traditional instruments from China; and Lwazi Bululu ’20, Gili Canca ’20, Zenande Mdludlu '21, and Ayanda Tambo ’19 performed a South African gumboot dance.
“Groton Cultural Day has become an evening of fun and festivities that many students and faculty look forward to all year,” said Director of Diversity and Inclusion Sravani Sen Das. “The Forum lends itself beautifully to this gathering, and the lights, music, and color make us forget about the cold and gloom for a while. Every year we think it can't get better and it does—thanks to the imagination and energy of our students and faculty!”
The energy remained high throughout the evening, with spontaneous dance erupting to the music piped into the Forum. The space itself looked festive, surrounded with flags representing the countries and heritages of Groton students.
Groton Cultural Day was a joint effort by the Student Activities Committee, the International Community Advising Program, and the Diversity and Inclusion Group, with help from the Art Department and Global Education program.