Festive parade marks U.N. Day at Julian Curtiss

It was a celebration of the diverse cultures and backgrounds that make up Greenwich as the students at the Julian Curtiss School of World Languages presented its United Nations Day Parade of Nations last Thursday.

The parade, an annual festivity at the school, included students dressed up in native costumes and the raising of the United Nations flag. According to principal Trish McGuire, the parade, which is the 22nd in the school’s history, represented a school which has students from more than 60 different countries speaking 30 languages. United Nations Day was recognized nationally, including with a flag-raising at Town Hall, on Oct. 24.

 

“Here at Julian Curtiss we highlight and celebrate the diversity of our student population and the work we do to prepare our students for citizenship in a multi-cultural democracy,” Ms. McGuire said. “Julian Curtiss recognizes the importance of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. We aim to probe ways to engage in our students in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.”

Before the parade, the students performed several songs, including the school’s “hello songs” in both Spanish and French. Then the parade began, with the students marching not according to grade but by the country they have either come from recently or from which their families came. The students marched around the school grounds twice, to the delight of all the parents and town officials on hand.

As he has in years past, Greenwich resident Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, who has served in a number of White House and diplomatic posts, including as under secretary general and special adviser to the United Nations, spoke at the event and thanked everyone for participating.

“The United Nations is at the center of activities that help build a safer and more secure world,” Mr. Reed said. “Our world is a troubled one and we face immense challenges. I have served the cause of mankind for 30 years and I have a passionate conviction for the mission of your United Nations.”

Igor Garafulic, chief adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean at the United Nations Development Program, also spoke at the event, not just as an official of the organization but as the parent of two Julian Curtiss students. He even joked that he had two missions in his remarks, conveying the values of the United Nations and not embarrassing his children with a long speech.

“This is an occasion for us to highlight and celebrate but also reflect on the work of the United Nations,” Mr. Garafulic said. “Our school joins this important tradition, celebrating with this parade. To all of the students here today, while holding your country’s flag and wearing your kimonos, sombreros and saris, you are supporting the values of diversity and contributing to make it stronger. A former U.S. president addressed the U.N. General Assembly some years ago and said, ‘The world is more compassionate and hopeful when we act together.’ That truth was the inspiration for the United Nations.”

Several first year Julian Curtiss students who are international, led by fifth grader speaker Yuki Nochiide from Japan, were honored at the event, and Mr. Garafulic said, “You have joined a school where universal values are respected and promoted in full line with the United Nations’ goals.”

Mr. Reed brought along a message from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to congratulate the school’s faculty and students on the parade and thank them for helping with the body’s missions for peace, human rights, development, the word of law, and empowerment of women and youth. He presented the written message to Ms. McGuire for her to keep in the school.

“On this United Nations Day, let us reaffirm our individual commitment and our collective resolve to live up to the ideals of the United Nations charter and build a better world,” Mr. Ki-moon said in the message.

First Selectman Peter Tesei and Selectman Dave Theis were among the guests for the parade, along with Superintendent of Schools William McKersie and his family. During last Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Mr. Tesei commended the school for holding the parade.

“The parade really gives a sense of the town’s overall breadth of diversity,” Mr. Tesei said. “You will see that this is not just a multicultural event but it reflects truly what the community is today in Greenwich.”

 

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All photographs taken by Post photographer John Ferris Robben

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