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A Multicultural Treasure Trove at Potomac Center

For Colombians and Colombian-Americans, July 20th of this year, was a very important date. It was the Colombian Bicentennial. In our home we celebrated the day by having a traditional Colombian meal, listening to Colombian music, and calling family members in Colombia with whom we could share the day. Because our school is so small and teamwork is such an essential part of our success, our staff is an extremely tight group. Consequently, we share a lot of our lives with one another. The following morning, I was sharing with my staff the events of the previous night and explained about some of the foods we ate including arepas (pronounced ah-ray-pahs ), a traditional unleaven Colombian bread. Slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, arepas for me at least, are the ultimate comfort food. As I waxed rhapsodically about the noble arepa, one of my teachers suggested we should make them in school. Arepas are easy to make and it seemed like a nice activity to do as we came to the end of our July session. What started out as a simple activity evolved into something much more. All of the students helped to prepare the arepas. To reduce down time, while the arepas were cooking, the students learned where Colombia is located, saw a picture of the Colombian flag and then we listened to Colombian music. Most Colombian music has a good beat and I explained to the students that Colombians love to dance. Rather spontaneously, everyone started dancing. Along with the dancing came big smiles and laughing. It was really quite wonderful to see everyone and especially the students with such joyful expressions on their faces as they danced. Fifteen minutes later the arepas were ready and it was time to eat. They were delicious! I could be wrong but I suspect the arepa may now be a comfort food for a few more residents of the Eastern Panhandle.

Posted: August 2, 2010