Students, teachers, parents and community members gathered at Glenn Hills High School on Thursday night to celebrate the school’s first International Night.
“We have Japan, China, Mexico and more than 15 different cultures right here in Glenn Hills,” said Principal Wayne Frazier. “We need to expose our children to each other’s culture – on purpose.”
The night was full of dance and music demonstrations, tables of food and people dressed in cultural garb.
Frazier said the idea for the night came to him one day as he went from classroom to classroom, and saw a lone white girl sitting off by herself in a class full of black students.
Frazier asked about the girl, and found out that she was originally from Russia and was enrolled in Glenn Hills’ English for Speakers of Other Languages program.
“It just didn’t look right,” he said.
Frazier said that when he saw the girl sitting in the classroom, it brought back a flood of memories of his school days during integration.
“I know how I felt, excluded in every class I went in,” he said. “I know what I would have wanted to feel, and I know what other people didn’t do for me.”
Glenn Hills has about 40 students in its ESOL program. The Richmond County school system has had an ESOL program since 1976.
Nhu Lam, 19, a senior in the ESOL program, is originally from Vietnam. She has been a Glenn Hills student for two years.
Although she saw the International Night as a chance to share her culture with fellow students, she also said the school has been a warm and inviting place to blend into American life.
“I really, really like this school,” she said.
Lam said her friends who came to learn about the different cultures also looked forward to it.
“I hope it continues and it gets even bigger,” she said.
Jamesa Houston, 16, a junior at the school, said her friends in the ESOL program have taught her a lot about other cultures and have piqued her interest in traveling.
“They’re a part of our family here,” she said.