This year’s Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Festival filled with ukeleles, fancy footwork, and ornate gowns was an unforgettable showcase of student talent and hard work.

Preceding the festival, the video America Is in the Heart about the Filipino American experience which included a group of Carlos Rosario School students working in the classroom, set the festive tone. The festival was emceed by ESL 8 student, Michael Cabrera, who for the first time in many years skillfully led the audience though the entire event as the sole emcee. Highlighting student technology and English skills, an ESL 7 student from Iraq and an ESL 4 student from Afghanistan shared Powerpoint presentations about their lives.

Another highlight was a handmade fashion collection from Rawan Bahabri, an ESL arts student and designer from Saudia Arabia. Students from the Nurse Aide Training class shared a video they created of Asian country trivia. Did you know Japan produces square watermelons?!

Some ESL students shared their musical talents ranging from singing to playing flute, and one ESL 5 class showed off their newly learned ukulele skills thanks to a partnership with visiting artist Kane Shimabukuro.

Following the festival students, staff and friends of the school were invited to the cafeteria for banh mi sandwiches and Taiko drumming provided through a community arts partnership with Artivate. In the middle of the cafeteria staff and students tried their hands pounding out rhythms on these loud drums, beats reverberating off the dining hall walls and through the hallways of the school.

This festival was the culmination of a month-long series of events celebrating Asian Pacific Islander Heritage. Other events held at both campuses included dance workshops featuring Indian, Polynesian and Japanese performance, a calligraphy demonstration, and an art exhibition in partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.