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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Students host interactive festival to showcase, share their cultures

Courtesy+of+Center+for+English+as+a+Second+Language%0A%0AFestival+attendees+gather+together+to+promote+diversity+and+international+culture+during+the+2011+International+Festival.
Courtesy of Center for English as a Second Language Festival attendees gather together to promote diversity and international culture during the 2011 International Festival.

To spark more student interaction, the UA’s International Festival will be held outside for the first time on Thursday.

The Center for English as a Second Language will showcase about 26 countries from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the UA Mall. In addition to UA students, individuals from local schools may attend and ask questions.

Festival attendees can have their name written in a variety of languages, enjoy Arabic tea and play games, among other activities. Students from countries around the world will also have the opportunity to present authentic songs and dances on the Mall’s stage.

New to the International Festival this year is a fashion show, and participants will dress in their traditional clothing to help explain where they are from. A storytelling segment will also be added to this year’s festivities.

“I think it’s so important for students to share their culture and let people know what they do, what they wear and where they’re from,” said Kathleen Hertenstein, student activities coordinator at the center and a graduate student studying language, reading and culture. “I definitely think it’s good for our students to get out in the community and practice English and educate people about their cultures.”

Faculty members in the center will also aid student representatives to organize and present at the festival. Each faculty member has been working with a specific cultural group to help these students think of ways they can best represent their country.

Jim Epstein has worked as an adjunct lecturer with the center for 14 years. For this year’s festival, Epstein has been working with a cultural group which encompasses Mexico and South America. The group has worked on posters, a flag and purchased items in Nogales for its presentation, he said.

“These students are foreigners here and learning a language that’s not their own, and this is a day that this is a culture they’re most comfortable with and they get to show it,” Epstein said. “I think it’s also good for the campus community and kids to actually talk to these students one on one and break through a lot of stereotypes.”

Though not all students in the center have been actively involved in the event’s planning process, some are still excited to help others learn about their hometowns.

Lili Rodriguez has been studying English as a second language at the UA for four months. Although she has not been able to attend the festival’s planning meetings, she will help represent the Mexican cultural group.

“This is one excellent opportunity to learn about other cultures and have time with other persons to learn,” Rodriguez said.

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