Expand cultural horizons at Middle Georgia State College’s International Festival

April 18, 2014 

Middle Georgia State College is inviting its students and the public to get to know the diverse range of cultures that are represented in the midstate by hosting the 13th annual International Festival.

“The International Festival is a good experience and opportunity to get to know other cultures from their food, their clothes and other members in those communities,” said senior biology major Mary Beth McConnell, president of the International Students and Studies Association at Middle Georgia State College. “We also have performances that include dancing, singing and martial arts demonstrations. The first hour will be a meet and mingle, where people can eat and talk to others. Many of us will already be in our cultural dress.”

The event is put on by MGSC students in the international association.

“This is a student-run event. We had about 100-150 people come through and we expect that many this year, too, if not more. In fact, we have a lot of volunteers from other organizations on campus helping out this year, too, because it has gotten so big,” she said. “It’s a great way to make this a community event and we appreciate the support our campus community gives us to put this event on.”

The goal of the event is to promote cultural awareness as well as to help the college’s international students become familiar with American culture.

“I’ve lived here in America my whole life, but my mom is half Japanese, half Pilipino. My dad is Scotch-Irish,” McConnell said. “I’m representing Japan for the festival and will be wearing a kimono. Our families are invited to attend as well, and my younger sisters will be here and dressed in kimonos as well. A lot of our families will be attending.”

In addition to Japan, featured countries at the festival include Nigeria, Vietnam, Guatemala, the Philippines, India, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

There will be plenty of activities for kids, including a puppet show.

“The show will be in multiple languages, and we always have a great time with this. We will also have face painting and henna tattoos,” she said.

The International Students and Studies Association at MGSC has about 40 members, but is looking to expand its reach by opening the event to the public.

“We want to help make people more culturally and globally aware and we want to showcase our school,” she said. “The festival is just also a lot of fun. We have a lot of food for people to try from our local and cultural restaurants. People may discover some new favorites!”

The proceeds of this event go to the club, which promotes cultural awareness on the school’s campus.

“Our members hold workshops throughout the year to educate people about our countries. We had a Nigerian and Romanian workshop last year, where the students talked and fed us. The food was so good,” McConnell said. “We participate in festivals around the area, too. We volunteer as much as possible, too, with local community concerns.”

International Festival

When: 5-8 p.m. April 19

Where: Student Life Center, Middle Georgia State College’s Macon campus

Cost: $5; free for children younger than 5

Information: Email marybeth.mcconnell@mga.edu

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