On a recent Friday evening, Rancho Romero held its first International Festival. The PTA, Inclusion and Diversity Committee, conceived the idea after engaging in healthy dialogue with its diverse members. Questions raised during the initial process focused on the need to understand family narratives and events, inclusion in the community, and representation of the vision of the school. A purpose and outcome for the event emerged and gained consensus for building relationships with family and community through perspective - music, art, food, clothing, stories and voices. After all, perceptions are formed through our perspectives.
Words cannot describe the energizing power pulsing through the room that night. The small group of Inclusion and Diversity visionaries created an experience that impacted the hearts and minds of all those in attendance; fostered relationships, not divergences, and provided a sense of empowerment. Imagination and creativity changed the view of the school that evening. Over one hundred and eighty passports were given out to children who walked through the entry of the multi-use room. They were transported across the world, into fifteen different countries and cultures, experiencing and connecting through cultural arts.
A comprehensive multicultural curriculum recognizes diversity through experience, and those relationships between experiences and the ways students construct new knowledge. One of the most profound and universal means of achieving these experiences is through culturally relevant arts education. Creativity is the human genius for transformation, Vygotsky (1978).
Moving forward, evolving, Rancho Romero was invited to apply and is currently participating in an integrated arts program, sponsored by Carolyn Wente (Wente Winery) and coordinated through the Alameda County Office of Education. These practices will serve to compliment what has been started at the school by pushing our thinking and practice related to looking at things in a different way - arts and culture, arts and social justice, arts and creativity.
Sonia Nieto (2000) explains that multicultural education accepts and affirms the pluralism (ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, economic and gender) that students and their communities and teachers reflect.
For more information, see "Beyond Celebrating Diversity: Twenty Things I Can Do to Be
a Better Multicultural Educator" (http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/resources/self_critique.html