The Wellesley Multicultural Festival (WMCF) is a town-wide, annual event, organized in partnership with Wellesley Public Schools which raises important questions for citizens, public administrators, and political leaders by asking for recognition of and respect for cultural differences. Highlighting multiculturalism provides one possible response to the question of how to increase the participation of previously oppressed, marginalized groups of people in our community.
The dimensions of multicultural awareness includes the following: content integration, the knowledge construction process, prejudice reduction, an equity pedagogy, and an empowering school culture and social structure.
What do students, teachers and the community learn and gain from the process of organizing and participating this event? Growing and learning in a multicultural environment yields (in particular for K-12th grade children) a greater understanding of others’ beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. With this knowledge of others, we will have a higher level of interpersonal and social skills. Through understanding various cultures and social groups, students are able to make connections from their own lives to the lives of their peers. Teaching diversity increases cultural competence, which in turn allows students to be empathetic to the experiences of others. The virtues of multicultural education values the different cultures of each student and prepares students to thrive in a diverse world.
At its core, multicultural education fosters equality, justice, and equity, and it establishes the reality of philosophical ideals that translate to better, positive practice of these values within classroom environments. In Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter (Harvard Business Review, 2016) authors David Rock and Heidi Grant explain “in recent years a body of research has revealed another, more nuanced benefit of workplace diversity: non-homogeneous teams are simply smarter. Working with people who are different from you may challenge your brain to overcome its stale ways of thinking and sharpen its performance.”
The WMCF is in keeping with the core values of Wellesley Public Schools and the World of Wellesley.