Diversity Council Coordinates and Curates Culture Day

Sarah Garrett, Staff Writer

The LASA-exclusive Culture Fest is a half day dedicated to learning about other cultures. On Feb. 2, students had the opportunity to listen to different speakers, engage in various activities, and learn about diverse cultures and experiences. 

This year, there were 16 different events ranging from “Discovering the Language and Culture of the Andes of Latin America,” to “ATX Korean Dance Crew,” to “Perhaps it is Music That Will Save the World.” 

Culture Fest is organized by LASA Diversity Council members, including sophomore Morgan Walker. She and the rest of the council helped put together Culture Fest, from solving issues that came up to promoting the event. 

“We invited speakers from all over,” Walker said. “Some people are activists, I actually invited a lobbyist to work for a statewide organization that works with animal rights. People who really know what they’re doing, come to give talks and lectures on really important issues.”

Senior Jana Lassiter, a Culture Fest coordinator, also worked to plan the event alongside senior Jillian Evans-Strong. Lassiter said she was particularly excited for the event this year because after a year of online school, it’s nice to host the event back in-person instead of over Zoom. 

“This year, I think we have some really interesting sessions,” Lassiter said. “I always love the teacher sessions, because we obviously all know the teachers. I’ve had Ms. DiGioia, I’ve talked to Mr. Ganesan, but then attending their sessions is just so interesting because they do an amazing job because they obviously know how to really engage students.”

Walker feels that Culture Fest is an amazing opportunity to learn about real-world issues. She said that it is important to the school because it exposes students to different ideas. 

“Culture fest is the quintessential platform from which we can as a campus encourage diversity, acceptance, respecting one another, and just being the best human beings we possibly can, doing the most we can, as people, to make the world a better place both within our campus,” Walker said. 

Diversity Council sponsor and SciTech teacher Ellen Owens agrees that Culture Fest is a good way to learn about real-world issues. She said Culture Day is important because it helps expose students to the outside world. 

Since I have ninth graders, I often have to kind of explain to them what it is and what’s going on,” Owens said. “So they often go in not knowing anything of what to expect. I think the impression that I’ve gotten from ninth graders in the past is that a lot of the topics are more mature than they’ve experienced previously because it’s people coming in from the world at large, rather than from within the campus, although we do have some teachers present.”

Lassiter also said that Culture Fest is a very unique opportunity since no other schools in AISD designates a half-day event during school hours for cultural presentations. Lassiter hopes that people appreciate the event as much as she does. 

I just think because of the diversity of all our sessions, people really should use that opportunity, and attend them,” Lassiter said. “I think it’s just really important because other schools don’t have an event like this, and we’re really lucky to be able to host it. We’re really lucky that the faculty lets us have like a whole half day for the event.”

There were some students who chose to leave school early and not to go to the event. According to Lassiter, it can be disappointing to see students pass up this opportunity.

“I think people afterwards really do enjoy the sessions that they go to,” Lassister said. “A lot of times people choose not to go or to the event, which they’re really missing out on because [from] the people that do attend, we hear amazing feedback.”

According to Lassiter, planning Culture Fest takes a lot of time and effort. Because it is a completely student-run event, Lassiter had to work outside of school to organize the event.

“It is stressful, the work definitely builds up, so every day me and Jillian are texting and responding to emails, and it’s just a constant back and forth,” Lassiter said. “But I honestly have handled that stress pretty well because I just know that we’re really prepared. ” 

Lassiter also said that she was happy with how much work the Diversity Council was actually able to complete. This year the Diversity Council split up the jobs among themselves, something different from years past. 

“I’m just so proud of how well that’s going because everyone’s just really working well together,” Lassiter said. “It’s just really nice to see the whole council coming together for this.”

Culture Fest will continue to be hosted by LASA in the future. Even though the event takes time to plan and time to execute, the six-year-long and counting tradition will continue to teach students about different cultures.