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West Linn High School's Model United Nations team shares Indian culture during Bollywood Night

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - West Linn High School juniors Carrisa Russell, left, and Lauren Sandberg demonstrate Indian dance.Usually people need to travel abroad to immerse themselves in another country's culture. But for the West Linn community, they only had to travel to West Linn High School.

On Friday, Jan. 19, WLHS Model United Nations team members hosted Bollywood Night. Model UN is a group of students who seek solutions, learn about global issues and work with other students to address world challenges.

Every year the team puts on cultural nights to inform and fundraise for a state conference that about 40 members attend in March at the University of Oregon. And the team decided to celebrate India, which is one of the countries along with Cuba that they will represent at the conference, for the event.

"The community gets to celebrate rich traditions and learn about the values and joys of other people of the world today," said Todd Jones, social studies teacher and adviser for the team. "Awareness builds relationships and relationships foster peace. I believe cultural awareness will promote a more peaceful world."

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Junior Caitlin McCabe and others present join in on the dance demonstration.In previous years, the WLHS Model UN team has hosted events like a German Oktoberfest, a Brazilian futbol tournament and a Korean dinner.

"Students identify signature cultural traditions to showcase," Jones said.

But this year, the team decided to do something a little different.

Since Bollywood is India's film industry, juniors Lauren Sandberg and Carissa Russell, Model UN team members thought it fit to show a movie — something the team has done in the past — but they wanted to jazz things up. While they did show a light-hearted and comedic Bollywood film toward the end of the evening, Sandberg and Russell — who have been dancing their whole lives — taught a Bollywood dance.

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - Freshman Rhea Groves serves some Indian food."We were able to get the majority of the people to join us in the dance when we were teaching it, so it was really nice," Russell said, adding that the moves are basically five simple steps commonly found at traditional parties or in Bollywood films. "The people who joined us in the dance were mostly students but there were children and adults who also tried."

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - Students get comfortable and watch the movie.
While the event was free to attend, a mother of a WLHS student volunteered to make authentic Indian cuisine as a fundraiser. There were two beverages, two side dishes and a main dish available. And just from charging people for food, the team raised about $300 from the 100 people in attendance.

"It's a good way to show there are different cultures out there," Russell said. "In West Linn we are kind of in our own little bubble so it brings more diversity and it's a great way to learn." TIDINGS PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Juniors Lauren Sandberg, left, and Carrisa Russell are part of WLHS's Model UN team.

West Linn Tidings reporter Clara Howell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281 ext. 112.

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