Food, dancing, games, and crafts were front and center at Steward’s Cultural Inclusion Festival, which took place on March 17 along the Colonnade and was open to all divisions. Hosted by the Upper School Diversity Club and World Languages Department, the event illustrates Steward’s caring community, which welcomes all voices and encourages empathy and civil discourse.
Participants sampled delicious foods, including Spanish and Colombian empanadas; Nigerian jollof rice; Honduran chimol (also known as pico de gallo); Southern dump cake; British cookies (known as biscuits); and Spanish cheeses — all prepared and donated by Diversity Club members. Festivalgoers also learned how to make colorful Portuguese paper flowers, and they enjoyed a spirited salsa dance lesson led by the owner of Richmond-based Salsa with Boris.
“Each year, the Diversity Club meets to discuss what they would like to accomplish and the impact they want to have on our community,” said Rashad Lowery, coordinator of campus life and community stewardship. “Last year’s cultural potluck was successful, and that inspired us to build on that experience.” Mr. Lowery co-sponsors the club along with Braeden Glancy (college counseling administrative assistant) and Khadijah Luqman (associate director of college counseling and world languages teacher).
The Cultural Diversity Club, 30 members strong, is led by co-presidents Feryaal Abbasi ’23 and Mikal Banks ’23, co-secretaries Katherine Romero ’23 and Ana Reveles-Leon ’24, sophomore representative Ada Long ’25, and freshman representative Nadine Odibo ’26. Mikal, a four-year member of the club, helped plan the event and was thrilled with the outcome.
“After a month of hard work, seeing students from all divisions and backgrounds attend the festival put a smile on my face,” said Mikal. Involvement in the Diversity Club, she noted, “allows me the opportunity to engage with students from all grade levels, as well as share my desire to increase cultural awareness at Steward.”
Mr. Lowery said, “I loved seeing how excited students were to try different foods … and there was a moment during the salsa lesson with students, staff, and faculty learning together and having a great time. School Counselor Jentae Scott-Mayo also taught participants a few dances — the Biker Shuffle and the Mississippi Slide — that are popular in African American communities. It was so great to engage through dance!”
Mr. Lowery is proud of the dedication of the Diversity Club officers and the other students who stepped up to help make the festival a success. He said, “A special thank you to the parents, staff, and faculty who contributed to the event: Marina Escamez-Ballesta (Upper School world languages teacher), Tiffany Goodman (diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator, who served as DJ), Dr. Karla Mossi, Ms. Ebika Odibo, and Claudia Ramirez (Middle School world languages teacher).”