“Our school has immigrant and refugee families from places like Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Kenya, the Pacific islands, Mexico and Central America. When school community members would bring in fresh Vietnamese spring rolls and Somali chicken stew to share, I’d think, “Oh my gosh, I want to learn to make this.” That was the beginning of the idea.
We have many disparate parent groups at my school, and we wanted to create a sense of cohesive community. My family is Italian, and all our fun family traditions growing up centered around food. I thought a Culturally Inclusive Cooking Club would be a simple and effective way to break down barriers: Who doesn’t like to eat? Just get people together. Language doesn’t need to be a barrier if you’re doing cooking demonstrations and sharing a meal.
In our Culturally Inclusive Cooking Club, parents will take turns teaching the group how to cook a meal from their home cultures. Everyone will be able to have a taste. And, in addition to learning about the food, they’ll learn about each other. More is shared in the kitchen than just the recipe.
The Teaching Tolerance Educator Grant will allow us to hand each parent participant a $50 gift card, so they can go to the grocery store and purchase the ingredients they need to teach their class.
Our current political situation contains a lot of divisive rhetoric. I think the best way to counteract that rhetoric is for people to get to know each other. All the kids at my school have friends whose parents are immigrants, and I believe our community is more inclusive as a result. I want to show that inclusiveness to the parents, to bring them in to meet their kids’ friends and their families. They might not speak the same language, but they can still connect.
The Culturally Inclusive Cooking Club will foster a sense of belonging for parents who may feel uncomfortable walking into the school building or asking for help. We want to make this school a welcoming, fun place where families want to be.”