Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


April 16, 2001

25th Cultural Festival shines on Quad

By Michael Terrazas


Two days after Emory students, faculty and staff tried their hand at ruling the world in the World Issues Workshop (see story above), thousands more convened on the Quad with the more modest goal of simply watching—or tasting—just a piece of it at the 25th annual International Cultural Festival, themed “Crossroads of the World,” held Saturday, April 7.

More than 40 student groups representing an equal number of countries fashioned booths to display coffee-table photograph books of their chosen lands, cultural items and, more often than not, samples of exotic culinary fare. The booths lined the Quad’s sidewalk perimeter from the Carlos Hall to the Callaway Center.

Set up in front of the Administration Building was a stage on which 18 separate performances entertained the crowds from noon until
5 p.m. There were dances and music from China to Mexico, Ireland to Pakistan, along with a tai chi demonstration and other programs.

“I am so happy that the weather was perfect just in time,” said Mitzy Attokaren, vice president of the International Association, of the sunshine and summerlike temperatures the festival enjoyed. The International Association, a student group, cosponsored and organized the festival along with International Student & Scholar Programs (ISSP).

“A lot of people come to the festival year after year,” said Dawn Williams, international student and scholar advisor for ISSP. “It’s a good opportunity for the larger Atlanta community to join in and participate. We just want to have a respect for everyone sharing cultures.”

Williams’ last word—cultures—is very important; festival organizers prohibited participants from sharing potentially more abrasive aspects of international life such as political ideologies, any religious proselytizing or commercial ventures.

“We didn’t let [the student chapter of] Amnesty International participate, not because we don’t appreciate what they do, but because we’re trying to maintain the festival as a cultural event, not a political one,” Williams said. “We have to be fair to everyone.”

The result was an atmosphere where groups and ethnicities that sometimes exist in conflict in the larger world could come together to celebrate their own individuality and distinct flavors—literally. Festivalgoers were treated to an array of international foods, from curried chicken at the Thailand table to chips and salsa at the Mexico table, to baklava at the Arab countries table and much more.

For the first time this year, organizers asked participants to fashion felt patches that were assembled in a large mosaic quilt that served as the backdrop for the performance stage. Organizers awarded prizes for the best entries, with Venezuela, Curacao and Vietnam taking first, second and third place, respectively.

There also were prizes for “Best Booth,” with categories for small booths, medium and large. From first place to third, the winners were China, Arab countries and Mexico (large booths); Iran, Turkey and Romania (medium); and Morocco, Armenia and Switzerland (small).

Parts abroad were not the only ones represented in the festival; there was also a United States booth at the opposite end of the Quad from the stage. The menu? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread.


Back to Emory Report April 16, 2001