Teenagers wearing Indian saris and sipping Chinese bubble tea swayed to the beats of Irish folk music at Sage Hill School’s outdoor Multicultural Fair on Saturday.
Sage Hill opened its courtyard to students, families and community members for the ninth annual Multicultural Fair. The fair, staffed by parent and student volunteers, was created with the aim of exploring ethnic diversity in Orange County.
“This is an event where we celebrate everyone we have on campus,” said Head of School Gordon McNeil, as he waited for his son to get his face painted.
Behind him, a young girl selected a henna tattoo while another shuffled through a clothing rack, deciding whether to pose for a passport-style photo in traditional Chinese or Japanese clothing.
“The fair is a reflection of Orange County as a whole,” McNeil said. “It also gives us the opportunity to open our doors to the community and show them what we have here.”
The fair, which drew more than 1,000 people, included an array of world food booths, an international performance stage, silent auction, ethnic bazaar and family activity area.
In addition to a $5 entrance fee for those 12 and older, attendees were invited to buy food tickets that allowed them to sample the cuisines of England, Japan, Germany, Spain, Russia, Korea, China, Persia, India, Bolivia, Mexico, Belgium, Pacific Rim, the Mediterranean, France, Italy and the U.S. Scones with clotted cream and jam, creme brulee ramekins, sushi and bratwurst mingled together on plates.
Each booth was decorated with its country’s national colors, and the volunteers serving the food wore traditional clothing.
The buzz around the food booths fell silent when Sage Hill sophomore Mukti Patel, 15, who was accompanied by three cousins, took to the stage in bright, sequined saris.
A loud Bollywood tune rang through the speakers, and the girls began their choreographed dance routine, hands and hips flicking with the beat as the sequins and their silver jewelry flashed in the sunlight.
The crowd burst into applause at the conclusion.
“The fair gives us the chance to open up and see what other cultures are like,” said Mukti, catching her breath as she exited the stage. “Not a lot of people get to see other cultures.”
Junior Kian Alisobhani, 16, chose to share his Persian heritage through a poem he performed at the microphone.
“It’s his fusion of Persian-American culture,” said his mother, Afsaneh Alisobhani.
Since 2004, Afsaneh Alisobhani has helped set up and serve food at the Persian food table. Chickpea cookies and Zulbia, a sweet candy made of yogurt and honey sat on the far table, next to a re-creation of a Persian tea house, where two men sat on rugs, sipping from small glass tumblers.
Kian Alisobhani was proud of the Persian booth, but especially proud of performing for the first time.
“That’s the nice thing about the fair,” Alisobhani said. “Kids are reluctant to participate at first. Year by year, they discover and appreciate their heritage. All because of the fair!”