Global Village celebrates RBHS cultures


Sophomore Genney Zheng smiles joyfully while participating in a traditional Chinese dance that took place during the eighth grade visit to RBHS Friday, Jan. 25. The group consists of students in various levels of Chinese classes. Students often practiced in the east atrium during class time in anticipation for their performance for Global Village happening today. Photo by Allie Pigg

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Columbia Public Schools ranks fifth in diversity out of all Missouri school districts, according to In celebration of the district’s cultures, RBHS hosts an annual Global Village week.
Starting first block today, students will showcase booths to display culture and bring international food to students. This year marks the 27th Global Village, assistant principal Dr. Lisa Nieuwenhuizen, who oversees the festivities, said.
“Diversity is the spice of life, and I think valuing diversity and celebrating it is always a positive, and I think it lets kids know that we care,” Dr. Nieuwenhuizen said. “It’s something the whole school can get involved in, and it gives people the opportunity to experience stuff they might not ever get to do.”
The Global Village week began with International Art Day featuring henna, Japanese origami and Ojo de Dios. Yesterday, the Global Village fashion show brought bright colors from around the world during both lunches.
Today, students will perform different global dances. Originally arranged for Wednesday, the dances got rescheduled for today due to the snow day on Wednesday. The India dance group, Khali Beats, will bring upbeat music, traditional clothing and Indian dances to RBHS, senior Kavin Anand said.
“For me, it’s a great, memorable way to finish my high school journey, getting an opportunity to dance with my close friends on stage,” Anand said. “Considering the rest [of our group] are seniors as well, it’s likely a fun way to blow off steam and enjoy ourselves before the next chapter of our lives.”
Incorporating cultures from around the world is a focus for senior Shawn Yeh. Yeh is the president of International Cultural Organization (ICO). The ICO helped Dr. Nieuwenhuizen make Global Village possible. Yeh has worked to bring charity to RBHS.
“This year, we added more things like charity donations [to Global Village],” Yeh said. “We focus on charity water. We’ll have a donation for places that don’t have clean water. [The booths allow for] people to know different cultures and [what] it’s like for them.”
Yesterday was the fashion show, organized by English Language Learners (ELL) teacher Lilia Ben Ayed.
“Each year we get more countries, more models,” Ben Ayed said. “I remember probably ten years ago we used to have about 30 models; now we have over 50 models each year.”
Global Village holds special importance to Ben Ayed as she immigrated to the United States for college from Tunisia, a country in Northern Africa.
Traveling the world and exploring unique cultures is a passion of hers; each year she is excited to share some of that experience during Global Village.
“I think it’s important for the body of students to discover the diversity because a lot of students do not know that we have students from over 30 countries around the world,” Ben Ayed said.
Junior Lina Kim transferred from South Korea during her sophomore year.
She participated in the South Korea booth last year and plans to do the same this year. Not only is she excited to share the culture of her country, but she also loves the teamwork aspect.
“[When I did the] Korean booth, I got to know more Korean people here,” Kim said. “Like, I didn’t even know they spoke Korean. I got to make friends [through] teamwork.”
Global Village also helps Kim remember life in Korea. While she loves RBHS, Kim said she misses certain aspects of her home country.
“I miss the food there, and I miss the special lunar new year,” Kim said. “Over [in Korea], everyone would celebrate it, but here they never have it.”
Sophomore Jeanne Sobiek, although not involved in Global Village, is equally excited to visit each of the booths and participate in the numerous activities like she did last year.
“I love all the food there, and I like how diverse it is,” Sobiek said. “We get to know about the different cultures from them instead of being just taught it like, I love that.”
Alongside students, district administration, community members and parents work to make Global Village a reality.
Dr. Nieuwenhuizen said their involvement makes the festival even more sensational.
“It’s always sort of hectic getting it all pulled together because there are a lot of moving parts,” Dr. Nieuwenhuizen said. “But then when it does, and it’s good, then everybody is just like, ‘Oh, wow,’ this is so cool.”