Since its creation more than 50 years ago, the long-standing tradition of International Day at Wasatch Academy continues to embrace diversity and celebrate the many world cultures represented within the school community. This year’s theme “We All Smile in the Same Language” brought everyone together to recognize our similarities within our diversity.
Currently representing 37 countries and 35 US states, Wasatch Academy’s International Day has evolved in scale to be several days of celebration, something not done in the 1950s. Since the original creation of International Day, the tradition has surged forward, but with many modifications and additions. The festivities now include an interactive Gallery Walk where students represent various countries and territories and share how cultural influences and political climates affect the country. International Day also included art exhibits, cultural performances, and a fashion show. “It’s an integral part of Wasatch Academy’s identity now,” said Head of School Joseph Loftin.
The festivities began on April 13 with a wide range of culinary flavors represented during the International Food Court. Patrons enjoyed meals created and prepared by students from Japan, India, Africa, Afghanistan, USA, China, Mexico, and more.
On April 17, International Day was enjoyed by the entire community and was a welcome relief from the classroom. The Opening Ceremonies are modeled after the Olympics, with respective national flags paraded through the Tiger’s Den by student representatives. The promenade invites the Wasatch Academy community to gain a profound appreciation of where their fellow classmates are originally from.
“This is my first (International Day) and it’s super fun,” said junior Max A. “The diversity is amazing. I like that I can celebrate with my friends from all over the world and learn more about their lives, both here (in America) and in their country.”
Furthering the global impact of International Day, alum and honored keynote speaker Yousef Bashir spoke to the Wasatch Academy community about how to overcome adversity, stand for what you believe in, and always find the best in every situation you encounter.
Bashir is a Palestinian-American from the Gaza Strip, the son of Khalil Bashir, a highly respected educator. Still suffering the effects of a near catastrophic injury at the hands of an anonymous IDF soldier, Yousef made his way to the United States where he attended Wasatch Academy and went on to earn a BA in International Affairs from Northeastern University and an MA in Co-existence and Conflict from Brandeis University. Now living in Washington DC, Bashir has worked on Capitol Hill and served as a member of the Palestinian Diplomatic Delegation to the United States. Yousef is an accomplished author, a vigorous advocate of Israeli-Palestinian peace, and much sought-after public speaker.
The festivities concluded with several hands-on cultural activities including henna tattoos, origami, and traditional calligraphy.
Cheri Crosby, the lead organizer of International Day, states, “So much preparation and involvement goes into creating this event. It’s special seeing staff, faculty, and students of diverse backgrounds working together.”
International Day is an excellent representation of the Wasatch Academy global community that is built on kindness, dignity, and respect for all. Joe Loftin notes, “Now, it’s a legacy that keeps growing, and the creativity these young people display every year remains fantastic.”