By Karen Stokes
The UW Panther Arena on Tuesday was filled with excitement. Students, exhibits, costumes, music and representation of countries from around the world were all in place for the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) World Fair.
Approximately 2,500 energized students from grades 4-8 from 16 of the most diverse schools in the MPS system participated.
The World Fair provides students to showcase what they’ve learned about the United Nations and its 193 member countries during the school year.
Students created display booths representing the different cultures then interacted with their peers to share their knowledge of these cultures and the role each country plays in its region or continent.
The World Fair was held at The UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and the Miller High Life Theatre, connected to the arena.
The 16 schools participating in the 2023 World Fair are part of MPS’s United Nations Schools of International Learning (UNSIL) program and have the highest concentrations of students with international roots, many of them refugees resettled in Wisconsin or part of immigrant families. Within the participating schools, 35 different languages are spoken by students and families.
Rob Costilla, a Social Study Specialist at Garland School who teaches 6th, 7th and 8th grade social studies, describes some of the students’ projects.
“The 6th grade project that we focused on is sustainable development goals of the United Nations and there are 17 total goals. Some of them created board games, some made posters and some created comic strips.
The 7th grade project consisted of the students taking an organization inside the United Nations like UNICEF, a world food program and they created public service announcements.
The 8th grade did a service learning project where our class wrote letters to Senator Chris Larsen. The first letter was addressing gun violence in Milwaukee bringing awareness and advocacy trying to make sure that something is done about gun violence in Milwaukee because of the increase over the last couple of years. The other 8th grade class focused on the lack of mental health services available to Milwaukee,” Costilla said.
Entertainment of the day represented diverse cultures, from the Milwaukee School of Languages band and choir, the Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Languages Cultural Fashion Show, the dance team and drumline from Rufus King, to African dance from Milwaukee French Immersion School.
The World Fair was open to students, parents and volunteers to watch performances and visit.