Di­ver­sity on dis­play

North Penn Life - - Front Page - By Michael Alan Gold­berg mgold­berg@jour­nalregis­ter.com

The spirit of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism was in the air — and the food, the dance, the songs and the art­work — Jan. 17 as about 300 in­vited guests took part in the In­ter­na­tional Spring Fes­ti­val 2013 Kick-Off Din­ner at Christo­pher Dock Men­non­ite High School.

It was just a taste of the 22nd an­nual fes­ti­val, set for April 20 at North Penn High School, which cel­e­brates eth­nic and cul­tural her­itage and di­ver­sity through a wide ar­ray of global cuisines, dis­plays and per­for­mances.

As guests glided around a din­ing area sam­pling cur­ried chicken, veg­e­tar­ian Is­raeli cous­cous, Cal­i­for­nia rolls, Gen­eral Tso's chicken. Mex­i­can tuna, baklava, pizza and dozens of other de­lec­ta­ble dishes, Tom Meyer — di­rec­tor of the Lans­dale Pub­lic Li­brary and co-chair of the In­ter­na­tional Spring Fes­ti­val plan­ning com­mit­tee — ex­plained that the night was de­signed “to let our cur­rent and pre­vi­ous spon­sors know we’re do­ing this again, and hopefully gen­er­ate even more in­ter­est, new spon­sors, and some new vol­un­teers.”

Meyer said while it was still too early to know what new things are in store for this year’s fes­ti­val — other than mov­ing the time to 10 a.m. un­til 4 p.m., as op­posed to 11 a.m. un­til 5 p.m., as in years past — there was al­ready one new spon­sor on board: Quak­er­town Na­tional Bank. It joins a long list of spon­sors that in­cludes Merck, Univest, Abing­ton Health Lans­dale Hospi­tal, Hat­field Qual­ity Meats and Kohl’s.

“This is so much fun!” said So­diah Thomas of S&B Event Con­cepts and Ca­ter­ing — one of many ven­dors who pro­vided the evening’s food — as she stood over a tray of pip­ing hot mac­a­roni and cheese.

“We’re so happy to be con­tribut­ing to the fes­ti­val and it’s great to cel­e­brate this area’s di­ver­sity,” she added.

Dosa Hut Chat House, Joa Sushi, Spa­tola’s Ital­ian Restau­rant and Pizza, Chong Dumpling House, Na­dia, Crown Chicken Grill and Philly Espresso were just some of the busi­nesses that do­nated food to the in­ter­na­tional buf­fet.

Among the in­vited guests, Meyer noted, were numer­ous cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives, non­profit direc­tors, and area educators — es­pe­cially teach­ers in­volved in the arts and lan­guage fields — as well as staffers for U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz, Mike Fitz­patrick, Pat Mee­han and other po­lit­i­cal fig­ures. Lans­dale Mayor Andy Szekely and sev­eral mem­bers of Lans­dale Bor­ough Coun­cil, as well as Lans­dale Bor­ough Man­ager Timi Kirch­ner, were also on hand.

Christo­pher Dock Prin­ci­pal Con­rad Swartzen­tru­ber said he was “de­lighted” to host the kick­off din­ner for the sec­ond year in a row.

“The mis­sion of this event fits very much with the mis­sion of our school,” he said. “We pre­pare our stu­dents for a global so­ci­ety, so tonight is really a mi­cro­cosm of what we’re do­ing here.”

Swartzen­tru­ber was stand­ing in front of a long row of ta­bles dis­play­ing items from dozens of coun­tries and cul­tures: Dolls from Hol­land, Slo­vakia, China and Poland; hand-carved stat­uettes from Malawi; cloth­ing from Le­banon and Jor­dan; a boomerang from Aus­tralia; prayer beads, drums and minia­ture tem­ple bells from Ja­pan; and more.

“I al­ways en­joy see­ing dif­fer­ent things from all over the globe — the clothes, the in­stru­ments, all the dif­fer­ent ways we as peo­ple ex­press our­selves through art and mu­sic,” said Swartzen­tru­ber.

“This is just a mini, con­densed ver­sion of what you’re go­ing to see in April,” Meyer added. “When you go into the gym at North Penn, the whole place is gonna be full of ex­hibits like this."

Last year’s fes­ti­val fea­tured 131 such dis­plays, and both Meyer and plan­ning com­mit­tee co-chair Kathy McCarter — di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity health at North Penn VMA — hope there will be even more this year to ed­u­cate and cap­ti­vate the thou­sands of peo­ple who come to the free fes­ti­val each year.

“We are so blessed to live in such a richly di­verse com­mu­nity with phe­nom­e­nal peo­ple, and learn­ing about other peo­ple that may not think the same or eat the same foods is so im­por­tant, es­pe­cially for young peo­ple,” said McCarter, who also over­sees the fes­ti­val’s health fair, which pro­vided free choles­terol, blood pres­sure and glu­cose screen­ings.

Dur­ing an hour-long pre­sen­ta­tion af­ter din­ner, the Christo­pher Dock Con­cert Chorale per­formed Fin­nish and African folk songs; Apache Chief Grey Owl per­formed a tra­di­tional Na­tive Amer­i­can dance; and the Guang Hua Chi­nese School of Dance ap­peared as well.

Key­note speaker Julie Walsh Hen­ning — a Soud­er­ton Area School District ed­u­ca­tor and fos­ter daugh­ter of the late No­bel Prize-win­ning au­thor Pearl S. Buck — shared her rags-to-riches jour­ney from an or­phan in Seoul who was “de­spised and ridiculed” be­cause her birth mother was Korean and her fa­ther Amer­i­can, to a more priv­i­leged life with Buck but one where she learned the value of di­ver­sity and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for other cul­tures.

“She used her com­pas­sion, her writ­ing, and her life to bring the world closer to­gether,” said Hen­ning of Buck, saluting those in at­ten­dance Thurs­day for try­ing to do the same through the In­ter­na­tional Spring Fes­ti­val.

“It’s go­ing to be a phe­nom­e­nal event,” said McCarter. “Tonight is the start of the ex­cite­ment. It's just the be­gin­ning of this whirl­wind of ac­tiv­ity as the com­mit­tee works hard to put that won­der­ful day to­gether.”

Though the list of per­form­ers for April’s fes­ti­val is still be­ing put to­gether, or­ga­niz­ers have al­ready signed up Voloshky’s Ukrainian Dance En­sem­ble and the Uni­ver­sal African Dance and Drum En­sem­ble. Visit the fes­ti­val web­site, www.in­ter­na­tion­al­springfes­ti­val.com, in the coming weeks and months for up­dated in­for­ma­tion about ven­dors, per­form­ers, dis­plays and vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Pho­tos by MARK C. PSORAS

Flora Sabo, left, serves food to Lans­dale Bor­ough Man­ager Timi Kirch­ner dur­ing the kick-off din­ner for the Lans­dale Pub­lic Li­brary’s 22nd An­nual In­ter­na­tional Spring Fes­ti­val at Christo­pher Dock Men­non­ite High School Jan. 17.

Mo­hana Padgaomkar, left, serves food to Apache Chief Grey Owl Thun­der­heart dur­ing the event Jan. 17.

Lans­dale Bor­ough Coun­cil­woman Mary Fuller, left, serves food to hun­gry guests.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.