Rivers Celebrates Diverse Cultures at Annual Global Fair

Food, fun, friends, families: This year’s Global Fair, held on Monday evening, was all that and more. As Head of School Ryan S. Dahlem said in his opening remarks, kicking off the festivities, “This is Excellence with Humanity come to life,” adding that the annual event created a sense of belonging and community for all members of the Rivers family.

Each year, the Global Fair seems to get a bit bigger and more encompassing. On a bright, warm spring evening under the tent on the Lank Quadrangle, Rivers students, families, and professional-community members gathered to share dishes, customs, music, and poetry that reflect the school’s diversity. While the stupendous potluck—with dishes ranging from dumplings to lasagna to sushi to tamales to pupusas to chicken tikka masala to saag paneer to barbecue and beyond—is surely the centerpiece of the occasion, there were many other expressions of global culture on offer.

“Global Fair is always one of my favorite events of the year, but this year’s was particularly special because it featured so much student voice and creative expression,” said Katie Henderson, associate director of DEI. “It was also great to partner with the community engagement and global education offices to expand the scope and reach of the event.”

Director of Community Engagement Lucas Malo added, “Events like the Global Fair celebrate community and the interests and identities that uplift the vibrancy that makes Rivers so special. I also loved the student voices and expression, as well as the pride and passion from the parents and faculty and staff in our community. An event like this has its deepest impact if it truly comes from the community, for the community.”

Various groups had set up informational tables around the tent’s perimeter, reflecting an array of community interests. One table provided information on the Juneteenth holiday; at another, attendees could learn about opportunities to host refugee families. There was a table that bridged food and culture with “pockets from around the world”: bao, dumplings, empanadas, and more. At another table, students celebrated Israeli culture with fresh-baked challah. And at yet another table, festooned with rainbow motifs, students folded origami cranes. In a reprise of a popular feature from last year’s fair, the family of Eden Hossaena ’27 and Meron Hossaena ’28 presented an elaborate Ethiopian coffee ceremony complete with a small portable stove for roasting the beans. 

After a brief welcome from Dahlem and a powerful original poem, titled “Erosion,” recited by Kayla Thugi ’25, the lids came off the pans and bowls and pots and Tupperware, and the sumptuous meal was served. Attendees lined up to fill their plates at two long tables laden with an array of delicious dishes from around the world. 

Following the feast, students took to the stage for musical performances. Adalia Wen ’25 had written a haunting piece for the guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument, recognizing the oppression of Uyghur people in China and honoring their musical traditions. She was accompanied by Jake Winneg ’25, Christopher Kim ’25, Henry Goldstein ’26, faculty member Ron Lowry, and Ethan Kasparian Weisman ’24.

Kam Harris ’24 sang a stunning version of John Legend’s “All of Me,” their unaccompanied voice ringing through the tent. The Rivers Select I Combo—Kasparian Weisman, Arianna Martinez Cavero ’24, Jack Benson ’24, Nathan Manasseh ’24, Jack Willard ’24, Noah Springhorn ’24, Gabe Manasseh ’26, and Gavin Bollar ’27—shared a tune they’d played on their recent trip to Cuba, Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba.” And three dancers from the New England Tongan Community—one the wife of Assistant Director of Technology Paul Karasch—shared Tau’olunga and Mako dances, to the delight of the crowd.

The Hossaena sisters circulated through the tent, sharing the Ethiopian coffee provided by their family. At an area in front of the stage, they addressed the attendees about the importance of the ritual in their culture. “It’s not just ‘having coffee’—the coffee ceremony is a whole detailed process,” said Eden.
Maylea Harris ’26 read an original poem at last year’s Global Fair and was moved to do so again this year. “Performing at the Global Fair is always an enriching experience,” she said. “Surrounded by people from all over the world, tied together by food, music, and words, I feel welcomed and safe every time.”

Her poem “Find Me Between the Oceans” concluded Monday’s event. It opens with the words “Someone online said the oceans don’t mix.” But Harris’s experience, as a person with roots in Cape Verde, the Philippines, and the Azores, belies that contention, she wrote. In her concluding lines, she told the audience, “I am between oceans / Ever-changing, unsteady— / I am proof the oceans mix.” It was a profoundly moving moment that reminded those in attendance that Rivers holds many cultures—and that the Global Fair was an occasion to celebrate them all.
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