Diversity on Display at Lee’s International Night

Lee hosted its annual International Night as students presented their cultural clothing, dances, music, and much more.


Meriem Idris

Cultural Pride: Dance and Fashion Show participants representing Eritrea and Ethiopia strike a pose before wooing audiences.

Zuli Afzali
Fashion show participants and friends of various nations gather around the flag of Afghanistan.

On March 15, Lee High School’s International Night took place in the auditorium to a diverse and excited audience. International Night is an annual event in which students can express themselves and their culture. The event is the perfect chance to learn about the cultures of others, as students present their cultural clothing, dances, music, and much more.

Over the years, Lee has been known for having one of the best International Nights in FCPS, with this year being no exception. This year, Lee even had the honor to host our beloved school board member Ryan McElveen!

International Night started like it did in past years, with the Taste of the World, an event in which different cultures share the culinary uniqueness of their motherland. Attendees tasted the different food from around the world and later voted on what cultural group’s food was the best. This year’s winner was the Spanish Honors Society.

The presentation in the auditorium started with the Fashion Show, where students had the opportunity to show the public traditional attire of their culture.

The America group went first, presenting a theme of American clothing over different decades. After the America group, student groups representing Pakistan, Bolivia,  El Salvador, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, North Africa, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Eritrea-Ethiopia showed off their cultural attire in the fashion show.

Sophomore Khadija Ismail, a dance performer for the USA group, talked about the importance of International Night.

“I think the importance of International Night is the expression of different cultures and the exposure to different kinds of people because sometimes we’re not always aware of what other cultures are about. Overall, experiencing the event is a really amazing learning opportunity,” Ismail said.

Junior Natali Velasquez, a fashion show participant and dance performer, saw International Night as an opportunity to raise awareness for her culture.

“This is really important to my sister and I because we really love the fact that we get to represent in our Latino culture in a such an amazing way,” Velasquez said.

Velasquez participated in the fashion show representing Bolivia with her twin sister Nardi and junior Melissa Rocha Miranda. She performed the Bolivian Caporales, Bachata, Cumbia, and Reggaeton dances with the Central American dance group. Velasquez also described what she was wearing during the event.

“I was wearing a Caporales outfit which is a short dress that is worn to perform the Caporales dance. It was sparkly, glittery, and the skirt was pleated,” Velasquez said.

Junior Aega Legesse participated in the fashion show and in the performance of the Habesha/Eritrean dance group.

“We got an Ethiopian dance and we mixed it with the dance of [Eritrea] so we were able to represent both of the cultures,” Legesse said.


Senior Meriem Idris, who also represented Eritrea in the fashion show and dance performance, described her beautiful cultural outfit that she wore for the event and for the fashion show.

“For the fashion show, I wore a Zuria, which is a traditional Eritrean outfit. The one I wearing was a white long sleeve an it had blue and yellow line accents that ran down the dress and it had a nice border that ran around the end of the dress with lines running throughout it..

Some groups, like the Eritrea-Ethiopia dance group, practiced weeks in advance, but other groups assembled closer to International Night.

Junior Natali Velasquez joined a dance group due to the need to represent her region.

“We were told that there were virtually no groups representing Central America, so we decided to curate a dance and prepare a fashion show performance and we did that in the week before the performance,” Velasquez said.

After dance practices, meal preparation, and outfit preparation, the students gathered to share their excitement with the Lee community.

Overall, International Night 2019 was a huge success for Lee High School. It was a great representation of the diversity at Lee and it set the bar incredibly high for years to come.