The Edison High Melting Pot: Loving Your Culture on Valentine’s Day


Mohita Ilamurugan '24

Love for all cultures signified by hands of different races around the Earth.


Super-sugary sweets, rosy red ribbons, graciously gratifying gifts  — oh my! As Valentine’s Day approaches around the globe, from the Philippines in the East to Argentina in the West, a loving air scents the earth. 

Valentine’s Day is a day of love. It is a day to show love to family and friends, or maybe even a “significant other.” It is a day to share treats with those you enjoy being around. It is also a day to appreciate diversity — Edison’s diversity — in cultural practice and tradition.

Students of Edison High, in a direct display of Edison’s diversity, have organized a number of co-curricular organizations to both celebrate and teach each other about their own cultural practices and interests. Within the walls of the school, a student can live a life in Italy or France at one moment and fly to Asia at another. Entering the world of Asian culture, any student can learn and explore with members of the National Chinese Honor Society, or NCHS. 

Our goal is to spread cultural awareness, and we are not exclusive whatsoever. Anyone interested in Chinese culture can join and participate in our various events,” said Julia Webb ‘22, president of the NCHS. 

By name, one may mistake the NCHS for being simply an “honor society” program through and through. Initially originating as an exclusive society for accomplished students studying Chinese, the NCHS has since merged with the Chinese Culture Club under a mission to, according to Webb, “stress appreciation for Chinese culture.” The same action has been taken by the French and Latin Honor Societies, each merging with their respective cultural appreciation organizations. 

Furthermore, each individual club is bound by a firm foundational belief in the importance of cultural education.

“Cultural education is so important, especially in a country like America where the entire country is a melting pot of different cultures combined,” said Webb. “It’s essential that the younger generation learns to appreciate the cultures around them, because otherwise, it can lead to stereotyping and narrow-mindedness.”

Typical club meetings center around planning for future events and get-togethers. In 2021, the NCHS made its name as the organizing body behind the immensely successful Dumpling Eating Contest and Shang-Chi Movie Night. Both were met by positive reception from students and could be described by any onlooker as coming nothing short of fun and lively.

“This year, our events have been really successful. While we had some expectations (adjusted to the Covid situation), the Dumpling Eating Contest and the Movie Night were an immense success. We felt that we were able to familiarize people with the culture through those events and also have a lot of fun,” said Jerry Chen ‘22, club treasurer. 

The return to in-person schooling has been a blessing for clubs that have historically relied on physical interaction and participation to succeed. Coming out of remote isolation, the NCHS was able to run and organize the exhibits it was not able to run over the 2020-2021 school year. 

“Last year, the Covid situation certainly limited the amount of activities we could hold. Our staple events, the dumpling eating contest and the Chinese New Year Potluck, were not held as a result of the pandemic. While we were able to still hold a Zoom event celebrating the Chinese New Year, it definitely did not feel the same,” said Chen. 

While remote learning did limit the majority of the NCHS’ planned gatherings, the pandemic did not completely eliminate club activity altogether. “The remote year kept our club from being active, though we did attempt to host a game night in which people could join and play games on Zoom. That event was pretty successful,” said Webb. 

Now free to host a greater variety of activities, the NCHS plans for even more events during the school year. 

“Our club wishes to continue spreading cultural awareness of Chinese culture through our upcoming events such as the Lunar New Year potluck, our karaoke contest Mic Drop, and hopefully through a booth at the DECA event at the end of the year,” said Webb. “We wish to keep hosting big events every year, in order to promote Chinese culture.”

The NCHS shares its extracurricular role as a source for Asian cultural celebration and appreciation with the Peacock Society, its South-Asian-oriented counterpart. Not officially under the Honor Society name, the Peacock Society extends its hands to anyone looking to learn about and celebrate Indian culture. 

At EHS, cultural love brings us together more than anything may bring us apart.

“Peacock Society has always presented itself as a safe space to embrace South Asian culture,” said Keya Patel ‘22, the club’s treasurer. “Growing up as an Indian American can be difficult. Hearing that you won’t be ‘Indian enough’ or ‘American enough’ causes a lot of internal conflicts, however, our goal is to give our peers a sense of community. A group of people that have been through similar experiences and overcame them.”

Much like the NCHS, the Peacock Society sees cultural exposure as fundamental in developing one’s sense of respect and identity. In addition, the Peacock Society recognizes cultural appropriation as a fault of poor cultural understanding. 

“Cultural appreciation is when one wants to learn about another culture with the intention to broaden their perspective and connect cross-culturally. Cultural Appropriation is simply taking an aspect of a culture that is not your own and claiming otherwise.  Personally, a proper method of cultural education can resolve that issue as well as lead individuals to interact in a wide range of social groups comfortably, safely, and confidently,” said Patel.

This past fall, the Peacock Society came out strong with its annual fall Diwali party (“Diwalit”), an event that has gained permanent attachment to the Peacock Society name as the club’s “trademark” activity. An occurrence of grand style and grand fun, the occasion was completely canceled during the 2020 holiday season, alongside the club’s major cultural production, called Fusion. (Fusion, according to the Peacock Society, is like a “Bollywood movie brought to the stage.”)  

“The past year with the pandemic everything has been a challenge. However, the fully remote year was something else but the leaders at that time did a great job to overcome the difficulties it brought. Sadly, that year was the first year in many we weren’t able to host a Diwali party and a lot of events, if possible, were moved on to zoom, Fusion in a way was also virtual,” said Patel. 

Despite the circumstances, club organizers, advisers, and committed participants never gave up their dedication. 

“To simply put it the dynamic of our club really changed due to a year of virtual instructions. But we like to see it as a contribution to making our club sturdy, evidence that we can jump over any obstacle in our path.”

Looking to the future, the Peacock Society looks to expand its celebration of Indian culture by embracing the lesser well-known holidays and traditions of the subcontinent. This move will undoubtedly increase student willingness to participate in the fun. It is also a fitting road forward for an organization that at one point did not know its next turn.

“Peacock Society has been a part of the EHS community for a while now. But the club has dealt with its fair shares of ups and downs. Our club had died out for a bit but due to a couple of amazing EHS alumni, the club was brought back and ever since has been growing stronger,” said Patel.

“We wouldn’t have been able to bring the club to where it is today if we didn’t have the support of our community, peers who join our club and participate in events, contribute us their time, and understand that we just want to build a zone where we can all come together and celebrate everything our culture has to offer.”

Clearly, both clubs have had their shares of downturn and defeat. But strong student response to various return-to-in-person activities shows us that love and acceptance has never left our school. At EHS, cultural love brings us together more than anything may bring us apart.

Truly, this is what the Valentine spirit is all about.