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Talent show funds education

Call it educating for future education.

A group of Flushing high school students organized a multi-cultural talent show last week that not only was geared toward raising awareness of gang violence in New York City, but also doubled as a fund-raiser for undocumented students in their school who want to attend college.

Set up by Flushing International High School's social activism group the Multi-Squad, co-organizer Joseph Pena said the group wanted to showcase the cultural diversity of the school while raising awareness about gangs in schools and communities around New York City.

"We have to take advantage of the diversity we have here because many other schools don't have that," Pena said. "Once we get to showcase this, we really get to see what's behind all of these cultures we have here. We're celebrating it."

The show featured a series of student performances such as Aztec, merengue, and Indian belly dances, intermingled with facts and dramatic skits about gang violence.

The Multi-Squad also requested an $8 donation from attendees to raise money for college educations for undocumented students at their school. Multi-Squad member Meiyun Liu said the cause is important as many undocumented students at the school and other schools around the city are not eligible for scholarships and often cannot afford to go to college.

"Everyone deserves an opportunity at a better education," Liu said. "These students came to school to make their lives better. We cannot just simply deny their opportunity because they don't have the money."

Faculty adviser Tania Romero said the Multi-Squad provides an important outlet for the students.

"Most of the time they don't get to express themselves like this," Romero said. "They come to school, they're told how to act, what books to read. This is one of the few opportunities where they get to express themselves."

Romero said the group has not only brought students together in the name of a good cause, but it also acts as a workshop for skills they may not learn in the classroom.

"I'm training them and teaching them the basics of community activism," Romero said.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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