World Heritage Day 2017 at Tilden Middle School

Article by Will Becker

Last Thursday, May 25th, the 2nd Annual Philadelphia World Heritage Day Celebration took place at William T. Tilden Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia. Tilden Middle School is a perfect example of the wealth of notable heritage in Philadelphia; a historic school built in 1926, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.  

In attendance were Mayor Jim Kenney, School Principal Brian Johnson, Community Schools Coordinator Regina Young, Executive Director of the School District of Philadelphia's Office of The Arts & Academic Enrichment Frank Machos, CEO of Philadelphia International Airport Chellie Cameron, Vice President and General Counsel of PECO Romy Diaz, Managing Director of the American Bible Society Patrick Murdoch and Executive Director of Global Philadelphia Zabeth Teelucksingh, among other city officials and the students of the school.

The event was led by Mayor Kenney and began with a tour of the “International Open House” taking place around the school prior to the celebration. Southwest Philadelphia has a history of having a diverse immigrant population, particularly from West Africa, and attendees were shown demonstrations by the students and members of the city that exhibited the area as a cultural ‘melting pot’. A notable feature of the display was the International Food section, in which students of international backgrounds in the school prepared some of the foods of their respective cultures.  Some foods that were included were ‘sticky rice and mango’ from Cambodia, papusa from El Salvador, and butter chicken from India, among others.

After the Open House, the Mayor and attendees entered the school’s auditorium and the Mayor announced the 2nd annual World Heritage Day, followed by a film that celebrated the world heritage of the city exhibited in Tilden. The film consisted of interviews with some of the schoolchildren born outside of the US, asking why they came to Philadelphia and what they like most about the city.

Next, a Q&A between international Tilden students, Regina Young, the Mayor, and Romy Diaz took place. The students discussed what it means to be a young person from an international background in the city today, and how this plays out in Philadelphia at large as a global heritage environment.

Frank Machos and Chellie Cameron then took the stage and announced the 61st Annual City-Wide Art Exhibition, “Celebrating World Culture”.  The art exhibition will provide art selected from hundreds of students. 46 of these pieces of art will be chosen for the World Heritage City Prize, in which some of the art that is most representing of the city’s world heritage ideals of diversity and inclusion will be put on display at the Philadelphia International Airport for 2018, for hundreds of thousands to see upon their arrival to the city.
In short, the event was a superb affair that showcased the distinctive sense of World Heritage exhibited in our schools, our citizens, and our city.

Click here to see photos of the event

Click here to see photos of World Heritage Day at the Abington Free Library and Roslyn Branch Library