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'A great tradition'
International Night celebrates different cultures

LILBURN - Djenaba Fofana and her three children dressed Tuesday evening in colorful costumes from her native country of Guinea in West Africa.

Wearing the outfits, the family visited Rebecca Minor Elementary School for its fifth annual International Night, a program dedicated to celebrating cultures from around the world.

"It's joyful," said Fofana, who wore a turquoise dress trimmed in gold thread and a matching headdress.

Principal Barbara Ergle said the celebration is the school's "greatest event of the year."

"It's a fabulous opportunity for our parents to share as well as celebrate their heritage and culture," Ergle said. "Families can rejoice in the customs, culture, clothing and food and share with their community."

Celebrating the diversity in the school brings the community closer together, she said. It's also a fun, educational evening for students.

First-grader Alexandria Catlyn said she "learned about different cultures," such as the tradition of henna body art.

"I think it's important for all children to learn about all cultures in and outside of the curriculum," said her mother, Melanie Catlyn.

International Night featured food, student art, crafts and activities from each continent. Families traveled throughout the school with a "passport," a paper brochure stamped when students and their parents visited a new area.

"It's a great tradition," said parent Andy Nguyen, who is from Vietnam. "I think it's a very good opportunity for most nationalities to get together and learn about one another's cultures."

Parent Giovanna Espinoza, who is from Peru, said she especially enjoys the parade of nations, a showcase of traditional dress from several countries.

Several Gwinnett County schools have similar celebrations. Also on Tuesday evening, Chattahoochee Elementary celebrated its International Festival.