Sharing our Cultures event kicks off Multiculturalism Week

A place typically dripping with Newfoundland and Labrador heritage has even more culture on offer this week.

Event showcases the diversity in St. John’s

On Sunday at The Rooms, high school students who now live in the province display their home countries' flags. (Katie Breen/CBC)

A place typically dripping with Newfoundland and Labrador heritage has even more culture on offer this week.

High school students living in St. John's have set up displays from their home countries as part of the Sharing our Cultures event being held at The Rooms.

Andrea Han was one of six people who helped create the China presentation at this year's Sharing our Cultures event. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"It's a really good chance for us to [get to] know each other and learn our cultures," said Andrea Han, an international student from China who's been going to school in St. John's for two years.

Booths representing 14 countries on display

Her group started working in September to create a display board and co-ordinate a shadow puppet performance that tells the story of Chinese New Year.

A group member who went home for Christmas brought authentic puppets back to St. John's for the show.

The students representing China all go to the same school but Han said the experience of putting a presentation together made them closer. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"Shadow puppet is a really traditional event in Central China," Han said. "We are not professional players but we were trying to show the best to other people."

The event with themed music, dance, stories was open to the public on Sunday. Close to 900 Grade 6 students will visit Monday and Tuesday.

Those elementary students, who are learning about world cultures as part of their social studies curriculum, will tour 14 different booths, each dedicated to a different country. They'll meet the high school students who created the displays and can ask questions.

19 years strong

Lloydetta Quaicoe started Sharing our Cultures 19 years ago after researching the psychosocial needs of new immigrants and refugee children.

"Students were struggling with integrating into school," she said.

Lloydetta Quaicoe is the founder and CEO of Sharing our Cultures. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"I brought together a group of local students and some of the students who had participated in the study, and when they came together, they said, 'We would like to have an opportunity to share our cultures,' so that's sort of how Sharing our Cultures came into existence."

Multiculturalism Week in Newfoundland and Labrador runs March 18-24.