2024 UNSIL World Fair Recap + Photo Gallery

2,400 students honored countries and cultures from around the world

On Thursday, April 11th, 2,400 MPS students traveled to every one of the 193 United Nations member countries without leaving downtown Milwaukee, thanks to MPS’ United Nations Schools of International Learning (UNSIL) program and the MPS social studies department which administers the program with the MPS Foundation. After the buses arrived at Baird Center, passports were distributed and for many children, the frenzy to glimpse every country began. Other students stood proudly by their poster board projects as ambassadors, answering questions and sharing knowledge on behalf of the country they had researched. After a while, the kids who had been filling their passports with stickers swapped places with the kids who had been representing countries and distributing the stickers.

17 of the most diverse schools in the MPS system converged to showcase what they know. Many of the scholars present were from immigrant families themselves and fluent speakers of 35 different languages were present. Staying put in one neighborhood amongst others who are culturally similar to you is an easy fate in Milwaukee, but on this day kids from all over the county enthusiastically mixed and met. Even Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson showed up to mingle. He was welcomed by a crowd of beaming schoolchildren eager to shake his hand.

Mayor Johnson with Annette Robertson, Willie Jude II, and MPS students.

After a morning of project sharing the awards and presentations began. For the first time in MPS World Fair history, Global Citizenship Awards were presented to recognize outstanding service projects by 8th-grade UNSIL students. Two winning projects received $500 for service projects, in the classroom, or for school community benefit. One prize went to the Budding Minds project, a garden and compost site at Fairview School cared for by students learning about nutrition and healthy food choices. The other prize was awarded to the Socks and Soup project at Story School where a donation drive will benefit the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. 8th graders gained support for the project by reading to younger students for donations.

Awards were given by MPS Foundation Executive Director Willie Jude II who said of the MPS World Fair, “This beautiful day is what happens when education and philanthropy come together. Only together will we find the solutions that benefit all of humanity and make everyone’s future more promising.”

Jude also thanked the Annette J. Roberts and Joan R. Robertson Fund for World Peace, World Law and Peace Education for continually sponsoring the annual event. Annette and her 108-year-old mother Joan created the MPS United Nations Schools of International Learning program in memory of Joan’s mother, a passionate pacifist and suffragette who lived to be 102. While working alongside the 45 dedicated volunteers of the fair, Annette said her mother still teaches, “A person should be a lifelong learner and a citizen of the world. Be compassionate, embrace the world, and try to support other cultures and countries.”

After the awards, everybody’s favorite part of the program began—the dancing and live music. The performers included the Milwaukee School of Languages Congolese Swahili Choir, the Milwaukee German Immersion School’s German Choir, African drumming from Stuart School, Vietnamese and Hmong dancers from Rufus King, African dancing from both Milwaukee French Immersion School and Lincoln. Things closed out with a cultural fashion show from the Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language.

“Having been involved since the beginning, I’m so proud of how this program and event has grown,” said Jennie Ekstein, Social Studies Curriculum Specialist. “Our team works passionately with the 17 UNSIL schools throughout the school year, and this event is the perfect capstone to all that hard work.”

Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley said of the MPS World Fair, “It changes students forever, developing them into compassionate world citizens who appreciate and respect their neighbors. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, these students will be ready when global challenges arise by being able to work together to find solutions.”

Latest news

Latest news