A tradition at GFA is an evening event for the whole school called Heritage Dinner: A Taste of the World. This inclusive evening is a celebration of the many cultures and heritages represented in our community, and of our community itself. Food always plays a central role at GFA events, and this is no exception. I would venture that the food for this event surpasses most, with an international flavor and variety of dishes, with spices from India and Mexico; salads, humus, yogurt, and breads from the Middle East; pasta and fragrant sauces from Italy; pastries from France, potatoes from Greece; stews, apple pies and spicy pumpkin breads from America and the UK, rice and spicy vegetables from China, and on and on. It was a wonderful mélange of taste and flavors, and smells, each dish more enticing than the last.
The real highlight of the evening, however, was our students and their contributions, which were central to the celebration of who we are as a community. From a Lower School student who performed an Irish Step Dance, with confidence and joy, to an Upper School student who spoke movingly and passionately about connecting with her Jewish heritage, to students who shared their own poetry or prose writing. We heard from talented musicians, from our a cappella groups and also heard from a senior about his journey of self-discovery around figuring out his own identity since his arrival in ninth grade. Now a confident and accomplished senior, off to a very good college next fall, he talked about how and what he has learned since 9th grade and how he has established a very good place for himself at GFA. The evening ended with three beautiful young African American women in conversation about their journeys of becoming confident with their natural hair, and the questions and stereotypes they have faced along the way.
The most significant aspect of the evening, however, was the deep trust in our community shown by the presenters as they shared their stories and perspectives, and similarly, the trust and respect shown by the community towards those with the courage to share. A truly extraordinary evening.