Ten years of the International Festival? It’s a small world after all. Indeed, this coming Thursday will mark a decade’s worth of the Somerset Community College International Festival being held on campus. The event annually features a number of displays, performances, lectures, food, and fun activities representative of different cultures from around the globe.
“It hasn’t surprised me,” said Elaine Wilson, director of cultural diversity for SCC, of the festival’s longevity. “We made an effort to make sure it grew a little bit every year. What we find is we have different people come to be involved in it every year.”
This year’s theme, appropriately, is, “It’s a Small, Small World: How Are You Connected?” The idea is that events on the other side of the world can have ripple effects here in Kentucky, and vice versa — everyone is connected somehow.
“We’re using that theme for several different presentations,” said Wilson. Key among them is an effort related to the school’s collective reading of “The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters,” a book by noted inspirational speaker, youth advocate, and TV personality Wes Moore.
“We have been reading (it) as a college for several months,” said Wilson. “We have encouraged all the faculty members to incorporate the book into their class syllabi for the semester and have encouraged everybody to read it. ... I was in the (campus) bookstore last month, and noticed that a number of faculty members have incorporated the book into their classwork, so we’re expecting our students to be well-versed on it.”
As part of the presentation, visitors to the festival will be able to place post it notes on a world map to show where they’ve been, and also to write comments about the book on notes to present to Moore when he visits the college in November.
Also tied into the time will be a “social justice presentation,” said Wilson. Peacecraft, a company out of Berea, will be doing a presentation on global principles of fair trade.
“They’ll be bringing products and wares from around the world, including textiles, purses, beaded jewelry,” said Wilson of the volunteer organization. “The main goal is that people around the world who produce products get a fair amount of money for their products.”
The featured presenter is Jim Embry, who has appeared at the International Festival in the past. Embry is a community activist and founder of the Sustainable Communities Network in Lexington.
“He wants to make sure people all over the world know how to produce their own food,” said Wilson. He has started various gardens around the Lexington community and the region to make sure people know how to feed themselves.”
Embry, who has organized over 40 gardens in his home area and trained over 400 Kentucky teachers on how to create school gardens, will be bringing aromatic plants like lemongrass for visitors to experience.
Among other events during the festival next week:
• The Parade of Nations kicks things off as is the custom at 9 a.m., with the flag display and bagpipers Bart Davidson and Jack Lewis.
• A variety of musical presentations, including African drumming, Celtic music with Robert Tincher, the Big Maracas band from Lexington Ky., and the Wayne County Elementary School children’s choir.
• Faculty member James Taylor will be making a presentation on non-governmental organizations and how they fit into hot-button issues like human trafficking and the international refugee crisis.;
• A focus on different countries: Ronald Kaluya will talk about Uganda, Richard Krause will discuss the paradoxes of Japan, Jahurul Karim will talk about Bangladesh, and Dr. Zenab Abdelalim will showcase Egypt.
• Cultural presentations including Laotian dance with Tyra Sengkhamyong, the reigning Miss Somerset title-holder, Chinese writing with Zhiming Xia, spotlight on Native Americans with Nechalae Williams and Carl Holland “Life in St. Lucia” with Vernon Amorsingh.
Films from the SCC Autumn Film Shorts festival, featuring entries from around the world, will be screened.
• An international lunch featuring the foods of Mexico, France and Italy will be prepared and served by the SCC Culinary Arts Program.
• The school’s cosmetology department will host an all-day fashion display in the Student Commons Community Room.
The festival will start at 9 a.m., going until 3 p.m. Events will be held in the Student Commons building, Meece Auditorium, the Learning Commons, an on an outside stage as weather allows. The event is free to the public.
Wilson noted how local school are able to bring students to the festival, making it a valuable community event that provides an educational experience not just for SCC students but people of all ages and stations around the area.
“Every time we bring people out to the college, it gives us another opportunity to show people how wonderful the college is and what it can mean to their higher education,” said Wilson. “We want people to start their education here before they go on to somewhere else.”