Modern Laois is fast becoming a richly multicultural society and this was celebrated in style by a secondary school for their first ever Intercultural Day.
Scoil Chriost Ri, Portlaoise celebrated the day on March 15 and it was a big success, as seen in the gallery of photos (above) courtesy of the school.
Teacher Miss Byrne organised the day with the Development Education committee.
"Students had been calling for an intercultural day since last year. We set to work in September planning it and never realised the huge appetite there was for it. Streams of students were gathering at my door wanting to take part some way.
"The girls are fiercely proud of their background cultures and really appreciated this opportunity to display it. So many said thank you at the end of the day and this was hugely rewarding. St Patrick’s Day celebrates ‘Irishness’ but many of these students are now Irish citizens but with identities rooted in other cultures also. This brings a diversity to Portlaoise that is unique and worth tapping into," Ms Byrne said.
The day began with songs from around the world as students arrived into school. They then visited stands presented by students showing their various country of origins and ethnicities, including Irish Travellers.
Break time saw a trad and dance session. At 12 noon there was an intercultural parade throughout the entire school with the students.
"The day was a huge success and highlights the rich culture and diversity we now have in our local community," said Miss Byrne.
There was research done beforehand to ensure the success of the day. Students were surveyed to find out how many languages were spoken at home. This will lead to a relevant multilingual welcome sign being displayed in the school’s entrance in the coming weeks.
Students on the committee included Jennifer McCormack. Nicholette Oibah, Jill Cushen, Grace O’Brien and Bunmi Ojejimi.
Jennifer created a PowerPoint on display in the school for the day showing interesting facts about the countries the girls are from. They then collected names of students who wanted to host a stand and identified the many eager students who wanted to proudly take part in the parade in their traditional clothes from around the globe.
The day was organised under the World Wise Global Schools initiative, with Scoil Chriost Ri focusing on the Sustainable Development Goal of Reducing Inequalities.