Emory Report

March 20, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 25

International cultures abound

By Eric Rangus

Attending the 24th Annual International Cultural Festival carries just two requirements: an empty stomach and a mind open to discovering the cultural and artistic heritage of dozens of countries around the globe.

The event, to be held March 25 from noon-5 p.m. on the Quad, is free to all. This year's theme "Here, There and Everywhere!" is certainly apropos since a more wide-ranged group of countries couldn't be found in a week's worth of Lonely Planet episodes.

More than 50 booths are expected­­10 more than last year­­from large nations (France, Italy and China) and others not so familiar (Uzbekistan, Malaysia and the Dutch Antilles, for instance). Each will feature information about the sponsor country, some will have native foods and all will offer entertaining­­and informative­­slices of life from their respective countries.

More than just tables to stack up brochures, the festival's many booths strive to be interactive windows to the nations they represent. Some will provide visitors lessons in native dances, others have games, and still others will give cooking lessons and hand out traditional recipes.

Some even build bridges across nations that are not always friendly. Case in point: for the first time, India and Pakistan will share a booth.

This pairing came out of the visit to Emory by Indian historian and professor Rajmohan Gandhi earlier this semester. He discussed avenues of reconciliation with student leaders, which led campus Indian and Pakistani organizations (which have a cordial relationship, in contrast to the prickly one shared by the two countries) to team up for the cultural festival.

At the end of the day, booths will be judged in categories such as educational value and decoration, and the winners will receive engraved plaques.

But the national booths are only part of the festival. At the other end of the Quad, a stage will be set up for international arts.

"People enjoyed the performances last year­­most of them are really lively. That's something we've been striving for," said sophomore Tanya Das, president of the International Students Association, which is sponsoring the event.

"We're trying to get a wider selection of performers this year," added sophomore Viraj Patel, association treasurer.

The performances should prove to be just as diverse as the national booths. There will be singing (Jamaican and Mexican artists will take the stage, for instance), dancing (NGAMBIKA, an African American stepping group, will perform, and so will a Celtic stepping group, Filipino and Mexican dance troupes, and Ballroom Forever, a Latin dance group) and music (a Persian instrumental group is one example). Each performance should last less than 10 minutes, and more than 20 are scheduled throughout the day.

A fashion show is planned as well, featuring traditional costumes from nations as diverse as India, Italy and Vietnam.

For more information on the festival, e-mail Das at tdas2@learnlink.emory.edu.

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