After weeks of planning AKS had its first International Day lunch on 16th January.
Thank you to Isla, our Year 11 student, who first proposed the idea for this event and to our team of students, parents and catering staff for creating such a successful celebration of international cultures through the medium of food. This event brought the spirit of internationalism to the school in a way that instantly connected with many of the pupils.
We are grateful to the parents who supported the initiative by preparing the food, providing recipes and serving the dishes on the day.
Isla (Year 11), the student lead explained: “We brought in parents from various countries, who all cooked delicious dishes for our staff and students. Fried Rice and Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice from Thailand, Butter Chicken and Dahl with rice from India, Christmas cookies and Boilos bread from Cyprus, Tacos from Mexico, Pork Dumplings and Noodles from China and Sushi from Japan. It was amazing to see our parents in the school kitchen on both Tuesday and Wednesday, with several students even staying to help out and learn, and it was incredibly rewarding to see the enthusiasm from our teachers and students in both the Junior and Senior schools once lunchtime arrived. The catering staff were magnificent in supporting the initiative and being so generous with their time. Everyone worked tirelessly to make this lunch a success and the outcome exceeded all expectations.
It was a unique experience which helped us to appreciate the diversity within our own school and which I hope will inspire and encourage all members of our school community to embrace internationalism in all its forms.”
Student feedback was fantastic:
“I particularly enjoyed sampling Chinese dumplings, Japanese salmon nigiri (including the wasabi!), wonderful Indian chicken and dhal curries, and chocolate-doused Mexican churros. What more can I say other than I cannot wait for the next international feast!” (Jeremy, Year 13, Head Boy).
“It was a splendid idea to do a culinary culture exchange at AKS, as it is important to be citizens of the world and to learn how to enjoy the delights of other countries.” (Miranda, Year 9).
“I thought that this was a good idea as it gives everyone a chance to understand and know what food is cherished in different countries. If I could I would have seconds and maybe even thirds! The variety of dishes made it difficult for me to choose a favourite. I think that we should do these international dinners more often” (Anirudh, Year 7).
“I thought the lunch was amazing! There has been loads of effort put into the lunch today and it tasted incredible!” (Phoebe, Year 8).
“The rice was brilliant. The chicken and the sauce were amazing” (Jessica, Year 7).
As well as volunteering their time and generously sharing their knowledge and expertise, parents commented that they too had enjoyed the experience. Some shared their thoughts with us after the event:
“It’s so nice to see all the kids enjoy the food and show their interest in different cultures, as a parent, l can see in the near future, AKS will grow more and more internationally and students’ eyes will more open. They will have lots of benefits from being part of this!” (Mrs Whitaker).
“There were many students who have tasted sushi before and loved it. I am a little surprised that many of them were from Junior School. Some of the students who had never tasted sushi did not try it but a few of them did… it was a great success” (Mrs Kondo).
“International Day was a great initiative by the school and even more so for involving parents in it. This is a fantastic way for the students to become aware of different cuisines, giving them a chance to try different foods. I was involved preparing the Indian cuisine along with my friend Lavneeta, Steve and his team. This was to ensure that the food had an authentic touch” (Mrs Raut).
To finish our reflections, perhaps the words of Dr Dunkow and the challenge she sets will help us all appreciate the wider context of events such as International Day:
“In a world and society where it would seem we are all focused on difference, let’s remember to put those differences away for even a few hours and sit round a table, pick up our forks, chopsticks, fingers and share our food. Taste and absorb those flavours of the world and its different people and rejoice, because we and our food are more the same than we are different. Sharing food is a sign of love. I really hope that our young people in AKS can feel the love we should have towards each other in school and not just tolerance for each other which is not the same as love. That is what being involved in an international event means for me. Wouldn’t it be great if the children of AKS could do such an event for those in greater need than ourselves and extend the love further?” (Dr Dunkow).
We truly hope this student-led initiative will sow the seeds for a longer legacy, inspiring other students to take the lead in different ways as we continue to broaden our horizons and connect with the wider world.
Being a Round Square school provides us with a rich resource and network through which everyone in the school community can benefit.