VIDEO: Mehlville International Clubs celebrate district diversity

The cultural diversity of south county was on display Saturday when the Mehlville School District’s International Clubs hosted the first International Clubs Spring Festival.

As many as 1,000 people came to Bernard Middle School to enjoy the sights, sounds and international flavors of the community, according to a district news release. Food booths representing 12 different cultures were set up and performances featured music and dance from Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Scotland and India.

Festival coordinator and Bernard Middle School teacher Christina Carlisle Mendoza stated in the release, “I’m very excited. It definitely surpassed what I thought it would be in the first year, but it’s exactly what I was hoping for.”

The Mehlville School District includes homes where more than 50 languages are spoken, and celebrating that diversity was the reason for the festival.

“We have different schools that are made up of many, many languages as well as different cultures,” incoming Executive Director of Student Services Jeff Bresler stated in the release. “It’s important to find different ways to make those people feel a sense of community and belonging to our schools.”

Organizers conducted the festival with the hope that it could become an annual event, and the overflowing crowds have made a 2014 International Clubs Festival a certainty.

Mendoza stated, “The main thing is that we are learning about new cultures. That’s the whole point. The world is getting smaller as we go on, so the more we know about people the better it is.”

Proceeds from the festival will be donated to Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that provides livestock to people around the world, including the United States, which can be used to start self-sufficient farming businesses.