World cultures celebrated at Tokeneke ‘Passport’ event
DARIEN — Music played, food simmered and students ran around in costumes from all over the world at Tokeneke School’s “Passport Around the World” event. Beginning in 2013, the event is a Tokeneke tradition where students and their families can come and learn about other cultures through song, dance and food from their classmates and their families.
Student and parent volunteers help make poster boards for countries where their family originated or where they have lived. The poster boards are set up in the gym and students go to each one to get different stamps in their “passports” they get upon arrival.
Nakia Steadmin, organizer of the event, said her family, including her third-grade son, Daniel, set up a poster board about Hong Kong, since they used to live there.
“It’s fun to bring an international flair,” she said.
Susan Daly, a parent volunteer who helped start the event years ago, said the event is a nice way to teach students about different cultures.
“This was great for the kids to get early exposure,” she said. “The families and the siblings all come.”
Past events have had around 700 to 800 people in attendance, which is free, thanks to fundraising events conducted during the school year. Volunteers from the Darien Depot helped serve the food, which was donated by local restaurants. Parent volunteers helped organize the entertainment.
“It’s an amazing tradition that grows every year,” said Kathy Schultz, school assistant principal.
The students enjoy taking part in the festivities. Sisters Annika and Linnea Mengwall, 11 and 7, respectively, dressed up in traditional Swedish costumes as a nod to their father, who was born in Sweden. The fifth- and first-grader go there every summer to visit family.
“It’s fun ’cause we get to see everyone,” Annika said.