Diverse Celebration

A family learns about Poland at a previous Brunswick  County Intercultural Festival. Courtesy photo

A family learns about Poland at a previous Brunswick County Intercultural Festival. Courtesy photo

What: Brunswick County Intercultural Festival
When: Saturday, September 7th
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Odell Williamson Auditorium
50 College Rd. NE, Bolivia
Cost: FREE
Info: www.bcifestival.org

Brunswick County is set to turn into a multicultural melting pot on September 7th as the Brunswick County Intercultural Festival (BCIF) celebrates its 10th year with the slogan, “Bringing the World to Brunswick County.” From Africa to Asia, Europe to South America, cultures from all over the world will be coming together to celebrate diversity on this one-day event.

The festival was set up with the idea of becoming a multicultural event, though it initially addressed the Hispanic community for the first four years under the guidance of Fernando Trulin, a Mexican immigrant and the director of Brunswick Educational Transition Center for Brunswick Community College.

The festival has grown so much in the last five years that it has achieved its mission of being a truly multicultural event, with over 20 cultures being represented this year. “Our goal is to create and coordinate a global learning environment by providing a place for cultural education and artistic enhancement sharing the music, dance, art, history, language, and food of our residents,” festival chair-woman Mari-Lou Wong-Chong explains. “This in turn will foster a better understanding, tolerance, awareness, acceptance and respect for each other and our different cultures.”

Over the years as the BCIF has expanded and attracted more cultures and attendees, it proves the invaluable experience of learning about foreign races.

The free event will be held on the grounds of the community college’s Odell Williamson Auditorium, with a lot to offer its attendees. “We have the International Pavilion [booths of various countries], food-tasting tent, the entertainment stage, and the hospitality and arts tent, promoting our local businesses and nonprofit organizations,” Wong-Chong explains. “We will have the Sheriff’s Office color guard and singing quartet opening the ceremony.”

Visitors can anticipate a multitude of exhibits, including activities for children of all ages. An art exhibit will be on display from the students who entered the poster art contest that was conducted by the Brunswick Art Council, the Brunswick School system, and BCIF partnership. An award ceremony for the art exhibit will take place on the center stage at 1 p.m.

In addition to this, local art teacher Lola Jackson will bring two of her young artists, both 9 years of age, to demonstrate painting and to invite those present to join them.

As an added activity, Home Depot will conduct a wood workshop on the grounds. “Children of all ages are given a wood project to work on with Home Depot staff’s supervision,” Wong-Chong details.

This year, a new feature called “Passport to Culture” has been added to the festival. The activity allows children and their parents to “travel” to different countries. “They will have the opportunity to practice on their artistic skills by drawing impressions of the country visited on their passport page,” Wong-Chong informs. “A small prize will be awarded by individuals and by business donations upon completion.”

The Passport to Culture will be presented by local volunteers from various backgrounds, providing a chance for participants to learn about the different ethnicities in our area.

Festival-goers can also look forward to artists and performers representing their countries through music, dance and art, including works from Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Hawaiian islands. Dance performances taking place on the entertainment stage will be carried out by Walsh Kelley School of Irish Dance, Mexican Folklore Dance Group, Miyagi Ryukyi Japanese Dance School, along with many other dance groups. The entertainment will kick off at 10.30 a.m.

Of course, what would a festival be without food? “Around 23 types of ethnic dishes [will be] donated by local ethnic restaurants and individuals ranging from Mexican, Guyanese, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Southern cuisine, and Indian, which guests can sample,” Wong-Chong tells. There is an $8 entrance fee for the tasting tent, which helps cover the expenses for the food tasting. The tasting will be available from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. However, visitors are advised to come early as the food may run out.

Overall, BCIF will continue its decade-long establishment of increasing understanding and compassion for the plethora of cultures in our southeastern NC community. “This festival is to bring the community together to learn about each other,” Wong-Chong describes. “The more we learn, the more there is to love about each other.”

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