Farmington is Family—Local elementary school promoted annual day to celebrate its international population

FEBRUARY 28, 2017—GERMANTOWN, TENNESSEE—A small group of teachers was busy preparing for Farmington Elementary School’s upcoming annual Multi-Cultural Festival. Head of the planning committee, third grade teacher Wendy Vires was practically brimming with excitement over the many events, “We’ll have a bounce house, an antique firetruck—parents have signed up to host booths to showcase their unique family cultures”.

The school was full of food, craft stations, and an international show and tell of sorts. Some booths offered goods and wares for sale.

Besides the expo-type layout, the school also offered special performances throughout the day. “We have parents and students who have signed up to perform a variety of things from international dance, singing, and even a magic show,” continues Vires. The day also featured a student art show curated by the two art teachers at Farmington, Rebekah Laurenzi and Marci Drury.

“Mr. Terry (a local dance instructor) is bringing his hip-hop squad to perform at 3:00. And, of course, our gym teacher Mario Aviles will be our DJ all the while,” says Vires. To round out the day and create a sense of unity, music teachers Amy Assad and Mike Smith will lead a unity song. Inspired by children singing at the Olympics over the summer, the pair have gone great lengths to teach the entire student body one song for this special performance. “At 2:30 and 3:30 everyone in the school will stop everywhere and sing the piece,” explains Vires.

Farmington has a rich history of welcoming international families, which in part inspired the original multi-cultural festivals at the school beginning over eight years ago. “We have so many families that relocate here and choose Farmington,” says Vires.

Chunyan Li is one such example. A recent transplant from China, she is employed with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and has chosen Germantown, TN as her home due to its reputation for good schools. She and her daughter Rose have just discovered the festival this year.

“I was looking online at a Chinese group on Facebook,” says Li, “and to my surprise there I saw many pictures of my daughter’s school”. From there, she knew she wanted to become involved in this year’s festival. To Li, and some of her friends who hail from other countries, the gauntlet of parent/teacher and family events can be confusing. “It is nice to know that they want us to feel comfortable!” she laughs.

“We feel fortunate that the teachers are devoting such time and energy to making us feel welcome and to give us a chance to share with the other moms,” she elaborates. Equating it to the feeling parents have about how their child’s project compares to others’ at school, Li is excited to see what the other parents will bring.

Li describes growing up in China where national and racial diversity were entirely uncommon. “I grew up in China and all of my classmates were native—there were no foreigners. When I first moved here I was shocked by the represented cultures here in Germantown.” Li then went on to explain the excitement and delight of raising her children amongst all cultures. She believes ultimately that it will cultivate their abilities to handle the real world in the future. “I feel like we are living in a real community,” she adds in summary.

Farmington is Family Multi-Cultural Festival
Sunday March 5th from 2pm-4pm
Farmington Elementary School, Germantown, Tennessee
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