The brightly colored paper flowers glow in the center hallway at Somers Middle School. They crown a larger-than-life silhouette of artist Frida Kahlo, the flowers a signature element of her self-portraits. The bulletin board was created by the middle school International Club for Hispanic Heritage Month.
“We chose to focus on Frida Kahlo because she made a big impact on the Hispanic community,” says International Club member Isabella Wissa. “We’re trying to spread awareness and share what Hispanic heritage month is all about.”
The bulletin board includes pictures of Kahlo and her art, as well as important facts about her contributions to different aspects of Hispanic cultures.
“During Hispanic Heritage Month,” says club co-advisor Angie Gottlieb, “Students were very engaged and curious in their understanding of all the unique and wonderful heritages and customs that flourish in the Spanish speaking world. “It is wonderful to witness how they truly work together to educate each other on their quest for intercultural awareness and respect.”
The International Club meets every other week and has grown to at least thirty members under the leadership of Gottlieb and her co-advisor, Annette Soares. The Club focuses on different cultural topics and traditions each month.
“It is important to understand other traditions, not just your own or those of the world language you are taking in school,” says eighth grader Jimmy Gallivan.
“We celebrate all cultures,” adds eighth grader Mia Paulmeno.
“It is important to have this club here at the middle school,” says Soares, “Because one of the district's goals is to create Global Citizens. We strongly believe the International Club will help our students become caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect for one another.”