CHS Cultivates Cultural Exchange Through International Club


LaNaiah Frieson, Contributor

Calvert High School’s population is diverse. In addition to the students whose first language is English, CHS also bears a small group of students from Spanish speaking countries such as México, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador as well as students who speak Mandarin, Indonesian, Norwegian, and more. Because there are few students from each culture represented at CHS, those students can often feel isolated. 

“As a student from Iraq, it can be hard to celebrate my culture here without feeling judged for being different,” said senior Nina Hedo. “Growing up speaking Neo-Aramaic as my first language, it was difficult finding peers that I felt comfortable speaking with using my household language. It was especially difficult because there are only roughly 500,000 people who speak my language left in the world, and my family and I are the only known speakers in the county.” 

Junior Jenita Shrestha agreed, claiming that there is little room for her to embrace her culture in school. “For Tihar celebrations, we are not given an opportunity to take off from school like we do for Christmas,” said Shrestha. “Instead, we have to worry about whether our celebrations conflict with our other plans.” 

For years, Calvert High’s International Club has worked toward reframing the school’s community and strives to represent all students by bringing awareness to Calvert’s vast array of culture and ethnicities. The club is centered on providing students with a space to embrace other cultures. 

In their meetings, International Club members are given the opportunity to tutor others or receive tutoring resources, practice conversational language exchanges, and earn community service hours. As students learn new languages, they are given the chance to practice for the Seal of Biliteracy exam to be recognized as bilingual by the state of Maryland.  

“We are passionate about making the community more aware of some of the diversity available in the school,” said Ms. Patty Periera, one of the International Club sponsors. “We have a lot of amazing languages and cultures that we are proud to recognize in this club. A lot of our students were tucked away in the corner and were not aware of a lot of these opportunities to share their culture, practice a second language, or learn more about a different country who have forged strong bonds through our club.” 

In the past, the International Club has cultivated cultural exchanges through events such as their annual International Night partnering with the National Honors Society and the CHS Music Department to introduce new languages and customs to the community. For the future of the club, they hope to host various multicultural activities highlighting the diverse cultures of the student body through different games and food exchanges. 

All students, even those whose first language is English, are encouraged to join and indulge in the wonderful cultural communities of Calvert High. Members are passionate about providing a safe and inclusive community for everyone and are eager to learn more about the world around them. International Club members meet every Wednesday and Friday during A-lunch in the ESOL classroom (319).