Students have mixed feelings about International Week being cut short
International Week. A week where students spend their lunches navigating the dozens of booths that have set up shop in the rotunda. A week where you spend your food tickets on that churro you’ve been eyeing, maybe coming back a second or even a third time. A week where lively music of many different cultures booms out of the rotunda and drifts outside. There’s just one question: when is this week?
This year, due to the work-to-rule teacher protest taking place at American, International Week was transformed into International Day, the reason being that not enough advisors were available for typical International Week activities such as the food sales.
“Because there is money involved and because [these activities have a] name like ‘American High School Interact’ or ‘American High School DECA,’ you have to have a credentialed staff member as an advisor,” said Mr. Fulton, AHS’s activities director. “Any time a student tells their parent, ‘I’m going to go to this [International Week] thing,’ the parent is probably assuming it’s a school thing, so there’s a school adult present. And if there’s not, and something happens, that could fall on us.”
Another aspect of International Week that was unfortunately canceled this year due to the lack of advisors and the implementation of work-to-rule was the new Night Market.
“We were planning on having—kind of similar to during Spirit Week—an opportunity for parents to come and see what happened during the day,” explained Mr. Fulton. “We wanted to provide an opportunity after school to have some of the performances that are going to be at the rally, and we had reached out to some food trucks to come with some international-themed food and we were also talking to clubs about selling crafts.”
Luckily, all was not lost. The annual rally still took place on Friday, February 15, and students participated in dances that represented their cultures.
“They are still happening because the rally was already planned. We already had that day marked on the calendar. Changing that would have been something that would be difficult to do,” said Mr. Fulton.
“The message is still there,” added Mingyu Wu (11), who is part of Leadership. “American is still trying to recognize the diverse community we have here, and we’re trying to just open our arms to different cultures.”
Even though there was only a one-day event to plan, that did not mean that Leadership would slack off. They were determined to see International Day through.
“Usually, the clubs committee overlooks the clubs and they tell them all of the information like ‘Hey, we’re setting up this day. You’re supposed to have this food.’ They make sure that… each club is assigned a country,” revealed Wu. “[Leadership is] still in charge of this year. We’re in charge of decorating the school and we’ve been making a lot of flags and a really nice backdrop to put up this Friday. We also sent out a form for clubs [who want] to have a dance.”
Amongst this good news, however, another issue arose: dance practice. Without advisors present, dance practices were unable to take place on the school campus. Other measures had to be taken to ensure that clubs were ready for their performance in the rally.
“It is kind of hard [going to practices], though I understand that we do need advisors. You just wonder why you can’t practice out on the campus on the blacktop,” described Leighanna Huynh (12). “ It’ll be more convenient for students because, for our practices, we’d have to go to the club president’s house. I know that it’s hard for people because sometimes they can’t find rides all the time and not everyone drives.”
With these significant changes for International Day, it’s natural that the cancellations were not universally favored. After all, International Week was one of the highly anticipated school events that add excitement to an otherwise ordinary week of high school. That’s not to say that work-to-rule was misunderstood or unsupported though.
“I do understand the teachers’ viewpoints. Living in California and living in the Bay Area is just so, so expensive. A lot of teachers live an hour or two away from Fremont,” expressed Wu. “I understand that teachers are such a fundamental part of the younger generation. It does make sense that they should get paid more. It just sucks that it’s affecting us and that it’s affecting what Leadership does.”
Just as much as it affected what Leadership does, work-to-rule also affected what the students received. Seniors, for example, would not have another chance at experiencing the International Week atmosphere as this is their last year at American.
“I know it sounds a little selfish, but, honestly, I kind of wish they took it into consideration more. I understand work-to-rule is something that is important to the teachers, and we all support that,” said Huynh. “I’ve been talking with my friends and they’ve been saying ‘Oh yeah, it sucks how it’s our last year here and we don’t even get to have an International Week… We can’t have a Night Market.’ We were looking forward to senior year, but then everything is happening now.”
Much like how this was supposed to be the seniors’ last International Week, it was also supposed to be the freshmen’s first International Week—the experience that would set their standards for future International weeks and, overall, for high school.
“It’s their first impression and experience at American. We hype it up, especially in the beginning of the year. Then, when they actually get into the year, because all of this has come up with the teachers and work-to-rule, it might not meet their expectations.”
With all of these mixed feelings circulating, it leads to the question: what can we do? The past is the past, and we were still able to have an International Day with a rally showcasing the many cultures of our school, whether it was the lively Bollywood dance, the energetic K-pop choreography, or the mesmerizing Tinikling steps. It’s also impossible to go back to the past and change what might have displeased us. We can, however, look to the future and go into the next school year with high hopes and support our teachers as best as we can.
“Our goal was to make the best of the reality that we face,” concluded Mr. Fulton. “If the situation is different next year with the teachers’ union, I don’t think there’s going to be a problem. It feels like, to me, it’s something specific to this year.”
Caption: During the rally, club members made sure that their dances showcased all of the hard work that they had put into their practices. Even as a one-day event, International Day was filled with just as much excitement. “International Week for…our class has always been important to have for the diversity of our school,” said Mr. Fulton. “ It’s one of the things that we think makes our school really special.”
Pc: Mina Qarizada (10)