College and Community Celebrate Diversity at Festival of Cultures

Kajol Patel and Rozmin Lakhani perform a dance called the Gujarati Garba, a traditional dance from their native Gujarat. Photo by Jessie Tipton.

 

Pellissippi State Community College hosted its Eighth Annual Festival of Cultures the evening of April 10th at its Hardin Valley Campus.

 

The festival has continually been one of the largest events of the year for the college, and was free and open to the public. This year the theme of the event was Caribbean and Asian cultures, and had many performances, including Thai and Filipino dancers, the Caribbean Dancers of Atlanta, the Carib Sounds Steel Band and many others. The festival was a family friendly event, and there were many activities for children, including arts and crafts and face painting. The entire area was filled with booths and displays that showcased different countries, and each exhibit had cultural representatives that invited guests to stop and visit. The event’s finale was an international feast, and everyone in attendance was invited to sample a large variety of foods from over 20 different countries.

 

 

Gayle Wood, Pellissippi State’s director of Access and Diversity, has been organizing the event since it began, and has been pleased with how the festival has grown over time. The first festival in 2007 was relatively small, but this year, over 600 were in attendance. “The Festival of Cultures was founded to give students an opportunity to showcase the diversity of the college,” stated Wood. She continues, “Pellissippi State has over 600 students from more than 100 different countries, and the Festival of Cultures is one way for the college to celebrate the diversity of its student body.”

 

Over 80 volunteers from the college and community contributed to help with this year’s event. Pellissippi State students Kajol Patel and Rozmin Lakhani performed an Indian dance called the “Gujarti Garba” for their audience. Lakhani stated, “The Festival of Cultures was so much fun, we danced and took lots of pictures! The best part of the event was seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces. For us, it was an honor to present our culture.”

 

All of the performers at the event were local citizens, except for The Caribbean Dancers of Atlanta. The group’s owner, Alison Moolenar Foy, described her troupe’s experience at the event, “We had an amazing time performing as part of the entertainment today. We performed some original Caribbean numbers. Everyone really enjoyed it, and we enjoyed it as well.” Group member Ya-Ya Anderson gave her final thoughts on the event, ““We’re all from different locations, cultures, states, but to see everyone come together, it’s a great thing.”

 

Gayle Wood offered an invitation for all future festivals, ““Everyone is welcome, this is a free event, and it’s open to the community. Whether you attended this festival, or any of the festivals we have in the years to come, everyone is welcome.”

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