HP CultureFest Promotes Connections, Community

Park Cities residents gathered on Nov. 5 at Highland Park High School to celebrate a melting pot of cultures from around the world.

“Events like these prepare our students to truly ‘go forth to serve’ as global citizens,” event co-chair Parul Harsora said.

The inaugural HP CultureFest was sponsored by Highland Park ISD and Park Cities International Friends (PCIF).

Nazli Guven and other parents formed PCIF in 2020 to help families stay connected during the pandemic.

Guven moved to the Park Cities from Turkey in 2017, becoming an advocate for English as a Second Language (ESL) students and families due to her two school-aged children.

In their opening remarks at HP CultureFest, superintendent Tom Trigg and trustee Stacy Kelly touted the district’s growing diversity.

The festival drew more than 500 community members and showcased cultures from 30 countries and six continents. More than 100 high school students and HPISD families volunteered or hosted country tables, where attendees could sample foods like guacamole and samosas, make crafts like calligraphy and papel picado, and play games like loteria and piñata. 

HPISD elementary school students did a Bollywood dance number, HPISD students completed a Laotian dance and songs in Chinese and Japanese, and Highland Park High School’s Park Version performed.

Korean American Youth Artists of Texas (KAYAT) performed a K-pop dance. Other professional performers included Rising Phoenix Lion Dance, Javier Aguilar’s Pura Sangre Mariachi, and the Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance ensemble.

“Our intention with this event was to help people build connections and community, and I think we definitely succeeded,” Italian PCIF member Luciana Rapisarda said. “It was amazing to see so many families at the event engaging with each other, asking questions, enjoying the performances, and tasting different foods.”

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