Vista’s Diversity Celebrated at International Night


Dance performance

Abby Shupe and Parmis Ranjbar

On Wednesday, March 18, Vista del Lago High School held its 5th annual International Night. Students represented their cultures from all around the world and ran booths, educating attendees on their heritage.

“I think that [International Night] gives students of diverse backgrounds a voice on campus and an opportunity to express themselves through excellent performances,” said International Night coordinator, teacher Luke Schwan, “and [it] also gives a great opportunity to my AP Human Geography students to put together presentations on a broad arrangement of global topics.”

There were booths ranging from raising awareness for worldwide environmental issues to how the world is portrayed in Disney media. “I thought it was super interesting to look at the different representations that Disney has given different cultures,” said Katherine Lee, organizer of the Disney booth. 

The Jewish Heritage booth was front and center at International Night, gathering much attention from observers. “[The club] has been really something fun to do to really connect with other Jewish kids around campus and learn more about my own heritage,” said Gavin Martinez, a member of the Jewish Heritage club. “And I’m also helping with the Latinx club and I think being part of both clubs is a good way to show my mixed heritage.”

The Jewish Heritage booth


The Latinx club gained popularity all night, with various cultural dishes including churros, pastelitos, and agua de Jamaica.

Student-led booths were exciting for both the Vista students running them and the event’s crowd. “It really started with me because I heard about International Night first, and then I wanted to tell my friends since there wasn’t really any Filipino representation at Vista,” said sophomore Matthew Mellijor. “I wanted to bring the Filipinos together with this booth.”

“There’s so many different cultures and ethnicities, especially in America but also at Vista so we should educate each other on our differences,” said junior Yena Kim. 

“It just brings everyone together,” freshman Talia Mogannam added.

Not only were students delighted by the event, but also teachers. Students from math teacher Kennedy Chongo’s class surprised him with a poster educating people on his life story and journey to Folsom. 

“I’m surprised, I had no idea there was a board dedicated to me… and I’m just discovering that there were times when students interviewed me,” said Chongo. “It does feel very special.”


The story of Chongo’s journey to living in the USA.

Dance routines were performed throughout the night, including K-Pop, Bollywood, and self-choreography. “I’ve always loved showing off my culture and taking any chance I can to do that and this was a perfect opportunity,” said sophomore Nishka Ashani, who organized and participated in three of the Bollywood performances.

“Me and Nishka have been planning to do an International Night performance for years, and we were able to rope people in for this year,” said fellow sophomore Anika Garg, who performed in the same dance routines as Ashani. 

Hosts of the event, including sophomore Sharvani Patil, cracked jokes all night. “I made so many connections with people I had not talked to before, and I had a chance to graphic design the program for the event,” said Patil. “It was amazing to see all our efforts and rehearsals play out in such a successful and fun event!”

The event concluded with the fashion show, giving students the chance to show off their cultural attire. “In the past, I’ve been kind of nervous about my traditional clothes and I wasn’t prideful in them, but in the past few years I’ve gained confidence and pride in who I am and my culture,” said senior Anika Bagai. 

After the show, people began pouring on stage, dancing with their peers.


The crowd joins the dancers onstage.

Overall, with a successful night adored by Vista staff and students alike, it’s a sure bet that the annual event will not come to an end anytime soon.