An Extraordinary International Week

Ushered in by colorful globes hanging at the School’s entrances and flags of many nations displayed in the Gordon Room, Chapin’s 9th annual International Week (February 12-16) captured the beauty of our shared humanity and the magnificent cultures that comprise Chapin, New York City and the world. This beloved all-school event, which highlighted the importance of cultural awareness and global literacy, focused also on encouraging students to be agents of change and to take action to improve their world. Following are highlights of activities from the enriching and celebratory week:

Upper School Foreign Language Presentations

In honor of International Week, the Upper School World Languages Department gave thoughtful, entertaining presentations that showcased the students’ fluency and their commitment to bringing people together through poetry, drama and music. French, Mandarin, Spanish and Classics classes offered high-spirited performances that included a video of two French scenes from the play “Antigone”; excerpts from the French poem “I Am Who I Am” performed with different colored scarves; Classics students’ recitation of “Ode 1.11” by Quintus Horatius Flaccus, featuring “carpe diem” in the last line; the songs “Super Girl” sung in Mandarin and “My Philosophy” sung in French; and Lin Wang’s Mandarin class performing the famous Chinese song “The Moon Represents My Heart,” with Mr. Wang playing harmonica.

Parents’ Association International Dinner

On Tuesday evening, Chapin families were invited to attend the annual International Dinner, presented by the Parents’ Association’s Parents of Children of Color (POCC) group. While snacking on hors d’oeuvres and sipping drinks in the Lower Level Dining Room, those gathered were treated to a lively performance by Chapin’s parent, alumnae, and professional community singing group, The Later Gators. The performance was made even more special with the addition of the Middle School Chorus for two songs.  

Following this, the group moved upstairs to the Gordon Room, where they enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Chapin’s food services team. The festive, global decorations and exhibits around the School added to the memorable evening.

Upper School Student-Led Workshops

Upper School students had the opportunity to lead their classmates in a series of fun and informative global workshops that included: “Exploring Asian American Identity,” “LGBTQIA+ Population in Jamaica,” “History and Geography of Chile,” “Korean Food and Culture,” “High Fashion Throughout Africa,” “The Effects of Communism on Russian Religion,” “Henna, Food and Culture in Spain” and “It All Starts with a Poem: A Collaboration between SHOFCO and Drama Club.”

Assemblies on DACA

On Friday, Middle and Upper School students learned more about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the important efforts of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (NMCIR) at two Assemblies that highlighted the powerful story of an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica who overcame obstacles to attend Vassar College. There she met Middle School Spanish teacher Dr. Yolanda Martin, who previously taught at Vassar during a summer program. A representative from NMCIR explained that there are 800,000 young people in the U.S. currently protected by DACA who could face deportation if DACA protection is allowed to expire. The students discovered ways they can help support Dreamers and advocate for the rights of all immigrants. Middle School students plan to contribute to a class blog about what they learned at the Assembly.

Class 3 Collages

Class 3 students made intricate collages of influential women from around the world. Using recycled materials like magazine clippings, yarn, clay, beads, and sequins, which they glued to a cardboard backing, these young artists created textural and colorful interpretations of the women who inspire them, including: Chapin’s Head of School Dr. Hayot, tennis legend Billie Jean King, former First Lady Michelle Obama, female education activist and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, Princess Diana, primatologist Jane Goodall, 10-year old transgender activist Coy Mathis, and environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai. 

Class 1 Learns a Dance

A highlight for Class 1 was made possible thanks to a special visit from Class 1 parent Adolophine Sheeley, who taught the eager students a traditional Congolese dance! With a man on the conga drum keeping the beat, the students (and their teachers!) had fun stomping, clapping and jumping around the gym.

Immigration Photos on Display

Ruthie Abel’s stunning photography exhibit “Let It Be the Dream It Used to Be” is currently on display outside the Lower Level Dining Room. Her breathtaking photographs “document children who, through an extraordinary network of volunteer counsel, have won the right to stay in the United States. Her images present the children’s ambitions, resilience, and their potential to reclaim lost childhoods and become ordinary and extraordinary Americans.” To continue the conversations generated by her photography, Ms. Abel visited Chapin on February 22 to work with Middle School students on further exploratory projects related to DACA. Also, members of the Chapin community contributed works of art to an International Week exhibition celebrating “Our Future, Our Voices” installed in the hallway outside the Gordon Room.

Kindergarten Explores the Philippines

As part of their study of the Philippines, the Kindergarten classes spent time during the week playing a traditional Filipino party game. Known in English as the “Newspaper Dance,” the game is a lot like the American party favorite musical chairs, but with a folded up page from the newspaper that keeps shrinking in size.

The students (either in pairs or on their own) received a page from the newspaper, which they placed flat on the floor beside them. Each time the music was paused, the students stopped dancing and quickly stepped onto their paper. The catch? Each time they had to fold the paper in half, making it smaller and smaller as the game progressed. The last team to keep their balance on top of their small folded piece of paper won! The gym erupted with laughter and screams as these Kindergarteners worked together to stay in the game.

In P.E. class, the Kindergartners had a wonderful time learning three more energetic games from the Philippines with the help of teachers Sydney Streimer and Callie Jensen.

Class 2 Immigration Stories

Throughout International Week, Class 2 received visits from Chapin parents and professional community members with fascinating immigration stories. One visitor, Chapin’s Campaign Director Georgia Siampalioti, spoke with the students about her experience moving from Greece to New York City.

After studying archaeology and art history in her home city of Athens, Ms. Siampalioti began looking for programs to further her education. She decided to attend Columbia University’s Teacher’s College for arts administration and moved to NYC in 1997. Ms. Siampalioti asked the students to put their mental math skills to the test, and they concluded that she had been 23 years old upon her arrival. She shared her initial struggles, like getting used to speaking English all the time – “My head hurt me a lot in the beginning, but slowly I picked up better English,” – and, with the help of new friends, acclimating to life in Manhattan. Certain things about America surprised her, like food portion sizes, she explained as she recalled her first trip to a New York deli, the lack of balconies on most apartments, and that people don’t line dry their clothes. Other things delighted her, like the city’s acclaimed museums and meeting people from all over the world. Twenty years later, Ms. Siampalioti is still here, now with a husband and two children! She left the Class 2 students with some good advice: “The important thing is to be open.”

Lower School International Week Assembly

During this year’s Lower School International Week Assembly, as their K-3 peers gathered eagerly on the Assembly Room floor before them (many in internationally-inspired clothing), a group of brave Class 3 students shared their unique talents in a medley of short performances. Lower School Head Thérèse Cruite kicked off the festivities with the reading of the children’s book “Whoever You Are” by Mem Fox. Then, one by one, the Class 3 performers took to the stage. Highlights included: a Chinese ribbon dance, the reading of Irish blessings, a Jewish prayer, a Lebanese belly dance, a Mexican folk song, and a West African dance.

International Week Cuisine

Throughout International Week, Chef Leo Goltser, Head of Food Services EvaMarie Deevy, and the entire kitchen staff prepared tasty meals that transported the Chapin community around the world. From borscht and sautéed cabbage from Belarus to paella and pollo guisado from South America to coq au vin blanc from France and hot lentil curry from India, each day’s lunch was a delicious treat! The community also enjoyed informative food-based demonstrations, including a traditional tea ceremony organized by Upper School Mandarin students and their teachers, Hong Shepp and Lin Wang.

Browse photos from International Week below: