World Cultures in Magnet

by Nikhita Bhatt and Jackie Wang for Silver Quest 2022-23

The Magnet program is in an incredibly unique position, integrated into one of the most diverse high schools in the country and attracting students with unique cultures from all around the world. Everyone has different traditions, food, clothes, and holidays that they celebrate, and learning about other’s traditions is an eye-opening and fascinating experience. 

Junior Carlos Lopez is immensely proud of his Mexican heritage, a pride that is mirrored in his favorite daily foods. First thing in the morning, Lopez enjoys chilaquiles, lightly fried tortillas with a splash of salsa on top. Commonly, he chooses to add different toppings, such as cheese or chicken, making the dish one of cultural intertwinement. Not one to scamp out on an exciting dinner, Lopez savors tacos or burritos for dinner, depending on the day and his mood. Even more excitingly, some of Lopez's favorite desserts are flan and buñuelos. 

Junior Nick Khil also expresses his love for Russian dinner foods including pelmeni, boiled dough with ground meat and onion filling. which is commonly referred to as the heart of Russian cuisine. His favorite aspect of his culture though, is the language. “Language is an important part of it,” Khil says. “Being able to speak more than one language fluently is definitely a plus.” Khil learned Russian from his parents and Russian school, which he still attends. 

Sophomore Hadar Ernst enjoys the holidays of his Jewish culture. One of his favorite holidays is Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish new year. He says this holiday is marked with a lot of celebration, and a notable aspect of it is dipping apples into honey. Additionally, he says Yom Kippur is a very significant holiday to him because it is about atonement and absolvement. He states that people pledge to be a better person for the next year during this holiday. “Our fate for the next year is written on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur,” Hadar says, summarizing the importance of these two holidays. 

Sophomores Shirya Krishnan and Kripa Krishanan both love celebrating the Indian holidays Diwali, Holi, and Navaratri. Diwali, or the festival of light, celebrates the new year and often involves fireworks and sparklers. People often attend multiple parties at friends’ or families’ houses and it usually is an amazing time. Holi is a festival celebrating Krishna that happens in the spring. Since Holi is the festival of color, a unique aspect of this holiday is the tradition of throwing colored powder. Finally, Navaratri is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the goddess Durga. It involves families constructing an altar, called a Golu, in their house to honor different deities. Navaratri spans nine nights. 

Shriya and Kripa also both enjoy Indian traditional clothing, typically sarees and lehengas. A saree is a long piece of fabric draped around one’s body so that the bottom becomes a skirt and the top becomes a shoulder covering. Lehengas and saris can range from casual to formal. In India, these clothes are worn more often, but even in the US, they are still quite common. Especially on special occasions, traditional Indian clothing is a big part of the festivities. 

Senior Annie Gao mentions her experience taking traditional Chinese painting classes when she was younger. “A lot of it represented the natural beauty of the country,” she said. “It allowed me to connect with my culture in a way more personal to me.” Her favorite part was stamping every painting with her name in Chinese. “I still have that stamp today.” 

The Magnet program is truly a melting pot of culture in all different forms. Next time you host a potluck, you know who to call!