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March 11, 2021

AHA’s International Week Includes Cultural Exploration & Appreciation

Meaningful relationships start when people take time to understand each other. During the first week of March, the Academy of the Holy Angels hosted International Week to foster a greater appreciation of the many cultures within the school community.

The 2021 celebration was organized by AHA Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Danielle Holmes and AHA Director of Mission & Ministry Joan Connelly.


Holmes invited students and their families, faculty, and staff to share various aspects of their cultures, including music, dance, recipes, and cultural garments. Some of the content is being integrated into class time throughout the month of March.


International Week contributors included members of the AHA Diversity Council, Asian Cultural Society, Black & Hispanic Cultural Society, The Italian Club, The Spanish Club, and the Mandarin Club. Faculty, staff, and students’ family members also contributed to this year’s event.


  • AHA Librarian Catherine Korvin explained the value of being multilingual, and encouraged others to learn new language at every age.
  • AHA Academic Dean Francesca Tambone-Puzio shared a video of her sister, Lucia Tambone Wehr, singing Giacomo Puccini’s Italian aria “O Mio Babbino Caro.”
  • The mother of AHA senior JaeMin Chu and sophomore MinAh Chu was actively involved in creating a video about Korean dumplings.

Students of Middle Eastern and North African descent also shed light on MENA culture. AHA sophomore Rachel Mina initiated the exploration of this area of the world during International Week and beyond. She produced a video entitled “This Is the Middle East” that includes MENA women who are making significant contributions to science and agriculture; Muslim, Jewish, and Christian houses of worship; and regional foods. AHA sophomore Maia German contributed an instructional video for making tabbouleh, a popular Lebanese dish.


Mina, who is Egyptian, would like the AHA community to discover more about MENA culture. MENA is also known as WANA, which stands for West Asia and North Africa. MENASA mainly refers to Islamic areas within the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia.


During International Week, Shivani Sahu demonstrated Indian dances, including Bollywood/classical Kathak fusion; Natasha Dhanrajani sang Indian music and shared family photos; Cameryn Lindsay created a playlist that includes Jamaican songs; Erin Choi played the gayageum, a zither-like Korean instrument; Faith Youn provided photos of a Korean dance; and Emily Kim and Natalie Yoo performed Samgo Mu, a Korean drum dance. Feiyang (Violet) Liu modeled traditional Japanese clothing, and Cindy Yang modeled a Chinese dress. Many other members of the AHA community contributed to this successful event.


At the end of the week, AHA Campus Ministry shared a related Lenten reflection: “Have I ever intentionally hurt or insulted someone because they are different from me? (L)et us pray that everyone at AHA will respect the uniqueness and diversity of everyone in our community.”


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.