Tales Not Tricks Celebrate Homecoming

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Anne DeWitt Local News Editor

This Friday the Palana House will celebrate Halloween with spooky stories from around the world and international cuisine to match.

The event is directed primarily toward the Palana Kids, a group of school children of ethnically diverse backgrounds from the local community. But it is also open to the wider College community—”Anyone who has a good story and wants to tell it,” said Cherine Anderson ’04, the programming assistant for Palana.

The evening will include a potluck of dishes from around the world—Anderson mentioned India and Jamaica—and stories “in the spirit of Halloween” from any culture or country. Anderson expects that the presence of two members of Otter Nonsense who live at Palana may lead to some improvisational comedy as well.

In past years, the Palana House has celebrated Halloween by creating a haunted house for the children. This year, Anderson said, they wanted to find a way to turn the holiday into something more meaningful than simply tricks and treats, especially since Halloween, as a uniquely American tradition, has little significance for many international students.

She hopes that Friday’s event will prove to be “a celebration of different cultures within the American culture of Halloween.” The event was planned with the intention that “sharing stories from other regions might open kids’ minds.”

Anderson describes the Palana Kids as one of many campus groups that participate in outreach to the wider community. Cinda Scott created the Palana Kids five years ago in order to put children from locally under-represented groups in touch with Middlebury students of similar background.

Today 12 families participate. The Palana Kids participate in many activities with the Middlebury students who are part of the program, including hockey games, potlucks, skiing, sledding, meals at the dining hall and multicultural events such as a Kwanza celebration in December.

“It’s meant a lot to my kids because there are so few children of color in the community,” said Anza Armstrong, a nurse at the Health Center who serves as the liason for the families involved.

Anderson encourages students to become a part of Palana events, stessing that although it may seem far away, it is a part of the College community—one that can provide an important link to the town.

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