From Monday 02 to Friday 06 October, students and staff at Bedford Modern School celebrated our annual Cultures Week. This initiative, now in its second year, aims to promote inclusion and understanding and to celebrate the rich diversity of our school community.
Cultures Week 2023 was organised by Mrs Sarah Wright, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at BMS, with the help of Year 13 students Radha Arulnandhy, Jelena Ilic, Ogohgoh Osehenye, Tasnim Rahman and Isobel Wishart. These five students spoke at assemblies and created videos to be shown throughout the week, discussing their personal experiences of presumptions and misconceptions around race, nationality and culture with students in Years 3-11. On this, Ogohgoh said: “I want younger students to know that there is always representation throughout every year group. We want to show them that we have all had similar experiences and help them to openly embrace their cultures.”
Isobel added: “I think a lot of the time people don’t realise when they are perpetuating these misconceptions. Hopefully these assemblies might help people to think: ‘Maybe that’s something I could improve about myself.’”
In addition to assemblies, a diverse range of food was on offer at lunchtimes, served in the BMS Refectory which was decorated with flags of the world. Many of these dishes were recreations of family recipes originating from all over the world, submitted by staff and students.
The week concluded with National Dress Day, in which students were able to come to school wearing clothing which represented a country or countries with which they identify.
Speaking about why this initiative is meaningful to students, Tasnim added: “If the younger year groups see representation from older students, they will feel more included in the community. I know when I joined in Year 9, there wasn’t anything like this. I want other students to know that you don’t have to ‘fit in’, because everyone has things which make them unique.”
Mrs Wright concluded: “We are so privileged at BMS to live and work in such a richly diverse community. Cultures Week enables all of us to learn more about each other, something which is vital in our modern society. As well as celebrating our differences and promoting greater understanding of how our individual cultural identities makes each and every one of us unique, at the same time it draws out our understanding of the common threads which unite us. It has been wonderful to see so many students and staff approach this with such enthusiasm and genuine excitement to learn more about other cultures.”