High School Chef: Virtual Thanksgiving Contest Brings Brooklyn Schools to Serve New Immigrants

For 25 years, it has been a popular annual ritual for students and staff at Brooklyn International High School. They sat at a table in the hallway of a downtown Brooklyn building, turning food around the world for a Thanksgiving feast.

They celebrated a typical American holiday with their own twist. Most schools that serve only new immigrants bring traditional food from their home country so that everyone can try it. Alumni have also returned as a demonstration of the strong bonds that the school has built.

But the pandemic has stopped its beloved tradition. The school’s students’ union, which is planning an annual feast, realized that there was no way to hold an event in September. Brainstorming a fun way to organize schools online, they decided to host a virtual cooking contest.

“People get together only once, and it’s really legal for food to do it. It connects people,” said Samantha Melo, who helped plan this feast as a student about 10 years ago. .. Melo is currently one of the directors of Brooklyn International’s community schools, helping to coordinate partnerships with the Center For Supportive Schools, which provide schools with additional health, academic and social services. Over 80% of students come from low-income families.

Megan Mintan, a dance teacher and student council adviser who has been teaching in high school for nine years, said students and staff had considered postponing the banquet until it was safe to meet again. But in years of very long distance, they decided that something needed to be done to commemorate the annual celebration.

“I feel like we’ve all been robbed of a lot this year,” Mintan said. “It’s very important to find a way to stay together because of the many challenges people are experiencing in our community and, to be honest, the suffering.”

According to Melo, many English learners are still struggling to find reliable Internet access and need more face-to-face support. Through the city’s community school program, staff seek to help students with all the hardships they face, from behavioral and attendance issues to helping families access government support. However, remote schools offer many students another layer of difficulty. Many parents and guardians work out of the house during the day, so no one at home “helps with homework and explains it in an understandable way.” Teachers are trying to provide as much support as possible, she said, even sending text messages to students just to check in.

But if the opportunity arises, the students seem to be effectively engaged in the activity, Mintan added. Two of the spring school virtual events, Spirit Week and Online Art Expo, attracted a large number of students through social media and video conferencing. Therefore, the Students’ Union thought that the virtual Thanksgiving activity could be successful.

Remote cooking competition may seem like a unique choice, as no one can taste anyone’s food. However, the Students’ Union has decided that friendly competition based on presentations and plating will maintain the basics of tradition and still encourage people to participate.

“Feast is food,” said a senior at the school who helped host the tournament. His guardian did not allow him to share his name. “The only competition is what we can do and make people enjoy it.”

Members of the Students’ Union began planning together, creating leaflets for the event and sharing it on social media to disseminate information. Other students have created a website for the contest. The teacher encouraged the students in the class to attend. Student planners hired vice-principals and teachers to judge competition. The Students’ Union then used the money it raised in the past to present three $ 20 gift cards as prizes for the top three picks of the judges.

The school community gathered at Zoom on Tuesday to participate in the contest. 70 students participated. They submitted dishes from all over the world. Haiti’s green owl, El Salvador’s Pupsa (cornmeal flatbread stuffing), and Domincan Republic’s Lostress Golpes (breakfast with salami, cheese, and fried eggs) are just a few examples. ..

After an introductory greeting and photos of past feasts, the judges entered the Zoom Breakout Room to determine the winners of the appetizer category, entrees and desserts. They chose crispy tofu dishes, Dominican shrimp dishes, and Bangladeshi desserts made by Chinese students. ..

The seniors who helped organize the event felt “proud” that the school was able to create something meaningful online.

“I feel that way,” he said, “I feel like everyone can at least hear each other’s voices.”

High School Chef: Virtual Thanksgiving Contest Brings Brooklyn Schools to Serve New Immigrants

Source link High School Chef: Virtual Thanksgiving Contest Brings Brooklyn Schools to Serve New Immigrants

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