Minutes before the celebration began, Co-Chair Meghan Geisler stood in the middle of Colorado Academy’s Stamper Commons and surveyed the 2022 set-up for the Taste of CA. There were dozens of tables where people could gather for a meal, even more tables for various homemade foods from around the world, decorations that invoked journeys to CA from points near and far, and a stage that would soon feature diverse entertainment and a proud CA Parade of Nations.
“I remember when I first started with Taste of CA and we had maybe 150 to 200 people,” Geisler said. “We had nearly 1,000 RSVPs for today! People want to celebrate one another and build community together. Once they experience that, they keep coming back.”
The last Taste of CA took place in February 2020, just one month before CA ended in-person classes and events in response to the pandemic. That night set a record with more than 400 people—babies to grandparents—filling the Campus Center Dining Hall and celebrating the strength that lies in differences.
But word has spread about the joyful and celebratory nature of this globe-trotting potluck. Meghan Geisler and fellow Co-Chair Christina Joymon moved the event outside, a perfect opportunity for CA’s youngest students to find plenty of room to roam, while everyone sampled foods from around the world.
“The gathering of people around the table to share food and connect with each other is something all cultures share,” Geisler said. “My heart is full because we see so many people connecting tonight.”
Greetings and Entertainment
Co-Chair Christina Joymon proved to be her usual gracious and enthusiastic Master of Ceremonies. As guests arrived to the music of the Academy Jazz Quartet and started to sample the wide array of international foods, CA students greeted the crowd in their family’s native language:
Joaquin LeWand (Grade 9) in Spanish, representing Peru and Poland
Brielle Burkett (7) in Hindi, representing India
Dana Elprince (11) in Arabic, representing Egypt
Fabian Frenz (11) in German, representing Germany
Jack Shapiro (7) in Hebrew, representing Israel
Jaime Prieto Lin (5) in Mandarin, representing Taiwan
Alia Bokhari (8) in Urdu, representing Pakistan
Millie Degefa (11) in Amharic, representing Ethiopia
Allie Gold (9) in Japanese, representing Japan
Emerson Geisler (9) in French, representing Canada
Throughout the evening, Joymon brought an array of global entertainment to the stage: the 5280 Karate Academy, the Fiesta Colorado Dance Company, the Wick School of Irish Dance, and members of Omega Psi Phi performed Black step dance.
“This event is about celebration. No matter who you are or where you are from,” Joymon said. “There is only one of you in this big world and you are so special. We are grateful that you are here and celebrating with us.”
The performances took place in front of elaborate decorations representing countries from around the world and the airplanes that bring people to their destinations in the United States.
“The people here tonight have traveled here from many places, and they find a home at CA,” said Decorations Committee Lead Jackie Gomez. “We have influences from around the world, and that’s how we grow.”
The Parade of Nations
The evening culminated with three events. Ukrainian dancers from the Postoley Dance Ensemble won the crowd’s hearts when they showed everyone how to support the Ukrainian people by joining in a native dance.
The Lion Dancers of Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu delighted old and young with their drama and acrobatics.
And the CA Parade of Nations continues to grow every year. One by one, Joymon announced the names of families and what they are representing, as parents and children—many in native dress—crossed the stage at the entrance to Schotters Music Center, the crowd cheered to honor their heritage.
“I literally live for this night,” said Joymon. “We are celebrating you, and the representation of everyone means a lot at CA.”