SCC Festival celebrating world’s cultural diversity
by Chris Harris Commonwealth Journal
Listen to the world ... from the comfort of your own hometown.
That’s the idea behind the eighth-annual Somerset Community College International Festival, being held today at the institution’s Somerset campus.
This year’s theme — “Listen to the World: Exploring Music, Culture and Language” — was chosen by student body vote, said Elaine Wilson, SCC’s Director of Cultural Diversity and the woman who spearheads the popular annual event which showcases different ways of life around the globe in the form of lectures, presentations, and beautiful sights to see.
“I think people like the idea that we can bring all those things together here to bring people together,” said Wilson. “We always talk about bringing the world to the college at one time, one day, and in one place, and I think that matters to people as well.”
Another thing that matters is seeing what new attractions the International Festival offers each year, and there are plenty of fresh perspectives this time around.
For one thing, Stoner Little Theater will be open for business. Wilson noted that in most past years, there have been classes going on in the auditorium, which features a stage, sound and lighting, but it worked out this time that it would be free for use during the festival, providing the ideal venue for certain acts.
That include Laverne Zabielski, a Wayne County woman with a talent for “wearable art.” It’s Zabielski’s first time at the festival, and Wilson is excited to have her aboard.
“She makes a presentation about the different cloths that she makes and her husband weaves music in there,” said Wilson. “It’s two for the price of one.”
Zabielski will be in the theater at 9:30 a.m., but does need models for her clothing. Wilson said that anybody who wishes to participate should show up at 9 a.m. and they can be included in the program as a special “interactive” feature of the festival.
Also in Stoner is an exhibit on Kenya by Roberta Barbalace, a London campus faculty member who recently visited the African nation.
Wilson said another standout of the festival should be an exhibit on Native American culture by Necha Williams, available for viewing all day in the Learning Commons Center.
SCC student ambassadors will, for the first time, be wearing clothing from all different corners of the world that have been loaned to the college from people in the community. Wilson called it “an all-day-long mini-fashion show.”
Other highlights are a new yoga demonstration at 9:30 a.m. in Meece Auditorium with Nancy Phelps, the Big Maracas Band at 11:30 a.m. on the outside stage, coming from Lexington to play Mexican music, and the University of Kentucky Alumni Association Lake Cumberland Club talking about international travel at 9 a.m. in the Student Commons Corridor.
Returning favorites include the Parade of Nations, led by bagpipers Bart Davidson and Jack Lewis, along with the opening ceremonies.
At 1:30 p.m., John Fryman will return to twirl the fire poi, a unique show of coordination and dazzling pyrotechnics, and certified Zumba instructor Teresa Hail will be on the outside stage at 10:30 to teach the popular exercise. Chef Mete Sergin, who teaches culinary arts for SCC, will be providing a taste of pumpkin-based food from around the world at 1:30 p.m. in the student grill. Also in the eating space at 10:30 a.m. will be a demonstration on how to write Chinese characters, and after that, an international lunch catered by the culinary arts students.
Elsewhere in the Student Commons Building, visitors can make their own Brazilian Carnivale masks with Dominic Rodriguez and Dini Melgoza at 10:30 a.m., learn about Uganda, Germany, and Bangladesh in different presentations throughout the day, and take in the fashion show by the school’s cosmetology department.
The art of Japanese anime will be presented by Bill Phelps in the Learning Commons at 11 a.m., as well as the all-day video presentation “Beauty in the World” by Carla Moore.
That’s just a taste of all the activities that will be available to the public and students alike. Wilson noted that students from Somerset Christian School have been invited to come from class this year, joining those from the three local public school districts, as well as Wayne and McCreary County Students.
However, Wilson would also like to see a wide sample of Pulaski Countians show up — whether they’ve been a student any time in the recent past or not. The event is free and open to the public, and a truly educational — and fun — experience.
“(The festival) has grown every year,” said Wilson. “When I started working on this several months ago, it didn’t look like we would have as many countries to represent, but I have been pleasantly surprised by all the people coming forward want to be a part of it.”