Oratory Displays Its Multiculturalism


With dozens of clubs and activities at our disposal here at Oratory, it is sometimes difficult to remember all of our clubs, especially when they are new to the school. The International Club is no exception. A successor to the Italian Club, the International Club filled the void of cultural organizations at OP, offering students the opportunity to, “share what [they] know, and learn what [they] want to know about other cultures.” 

As part of this effort to increase OP’s student population’s exposure to different cultures, the club organized a schoolwide assembly on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020. Presenting on their cultural backgrounds and unique cultural circumstances, three OP seniors, Daniel Carvalheiro-Santos, Andrew Stelmach, and Andrew Stauffer, shared their thoughts and experiences with the school. 

At the helm of this student organization are Mrs. Clark and Ms. Asaro, the former having kicked off the assembly with an eye-opening speech about the diversity found in the state of New Jersey, using statistics that showed how truly immersed our state is in multiculturalism. 

Following her speech, it was time for senior Daniel Carvalheiro-Santos (aka DCS) to share his experiences living in the Portuguese diaspora. Having been born in Portugal and lived there for six years, he is very familiar with the intricacies of the Iberian nation’s cultural traditions. After explaining the importance of the diaspora, the Portuguese population living outside of Portugal, to the student body, he went on to describe several key aspects of Portuguese culture, including language and the many religious festivals celebrated by Portuguese communities around the world. His presentation offered insight into a world with which many of the students were unfamiliar.

Gradually shifting eastward in Europe, the next presentation focused on Ukrainian culture, and it was presented by the school’s foremost expert on all things Ukraine, Andrew Stelmach, whose introduction focused on how to say his name in Ukrainian. The bulk of his talk, however, portrayed the lives of many Ukrainian-Americans, discussing the social functions and activities organized by Ukrainian-Americans and for Ukrainian-Americans. As a student, he was put through Ukrainian School and participated in Ukrainian-style scouting organization. His involvement in Ukrainian-American society culminated in his attendance at a Debutante Ball where he accompanied a Ukrainian girl as she was ushered into society. 

To end the afternoon, Andrew Stauffer discussed his experiences at the Singapore American School, where he was enrolled between 6th and 7th grade. The “culture shock” he felt upon being dropped into a pool of diversity struck him at first, but he easily became accustomed to dealing with and appreciating other cultures. In many ways, his time at the SAS provided him with a number of rewarding opportunities, ranging from different classes and electives to sports including cricket and water polo. From a broader perspective, his viewpoint on the world is much affected by his time in Singapore, a time when he encounters cultural diversity he had never before seen. 

This presentation was a testament to the diverse experiences in which many OP students have partaken. Launching what will hopefully become an annual tradition, International Club will hopefully prosper in its efforts to raise awareness to multiculturalism at OP. If anybody is interested in joining the International Club, email Mrs. Clark or join the club at its meetings on Thursday mornings in room 201. In the end, it is these connections we make to different cultures, whether by sharing about our own or learning about another, that has a lasting impact on our perception of the world around us.