HWS Students Share Culture – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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HWS Students Share Culture

In an article in the Finger Lakes Times, the Festival of Nations held at the Geneva Middle and High Schools last Friday was featured. The second annual event featured booths with activities and/or foods based on a particular culture. Some were sponsored by businesses or organizations from the community, including one from Intercultural Affairs and another by Jumpstart Corps members.

“Students from Korea, Nepal and China were at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Intercultural Affairs Booth, translating children’s names into their native languages and helping them make boondoggle lanyards using the colors of various countries.”

HWS students also helped bring food to the event early on Friday, picking up foods from nearly a dozen local businesses to bring to the schools.

The photo above features Jumpstart Corps members.

The full article about the event follows.


Plenty to see & do
Geneva schools celebrate city’s various cultures

Amanda Folts • March 9, 2009

GENEVA – The hallways at Geneva’s Middle/High School complex on Carter Road were packed Friday night with people taking in the sights, sounds, smells and activities of an array of cultures.

For the second year, the Festival of Nations drew large crowds of people who made their way around to dozens of booths and performances organized for the event. Some booths offered information about a business or organization, usually with some goodies or activities or foods native to various countries around the world.

Eighth-grader Michael Pulver was stationed at the origami booth with a friend, teaching people the Japanese art of paper folding and how to make swans, cranes, fortune tellers and bunnies.

“Me and my friend were in a contest to see who could make the most cranes for cancer patients, so that’s how we learned how to fold these cranes,” he said, holding up a yellow one.

Down the hall, Brenda Senack, the Middle School’s extended studies coordinator, taught children how to make quipu or khipu, “talking knots,” which the Incas used as accounting devices. Senack said she started knot tying when she was searching for extra activities to do with middle-schoolers, and then she decided it would be right for the festival because it’s easy for a small child to do. As an example, she said knots were placed in a string at various intervals to show a date: three knots followed by a space then 11 knots would represent March 11.

Ninth-graders Courtney Franceschi and Kayleigh Brennan were helping get some string ready at the quipu booth, but were also teaching kids how to play dominoes at another. They both said they’d wanted to participate in the festival because it gave them a chance to interact with kids. Franceschi noted that there were a few little kids at their domino booth who taught them a thing or two about the game.

Sophomore Aryn Hanley was teaching kids how to make Native American bracelets with beads and string. Hanley said she wanted to volunteer there because she makes jewelry at home.

Each booth had a card that described the activity’s origin and significance. Hanley’s said Native Americans would use coral, shells, stones and other items from nature to make beads; and the resulting bracelets were as diverse as each tribe and nation. It also noted that they were used for trade.

Third-grader Emma Arthur enjoyed the festival, and said “it’s fun,” while getting her hair beaded at the African-American culture booth. Mom Tracy Arthur agreed and said Emma had gotten her hair braided at last year’s festival.

Besides activities from around the world, local organizations and businesses set up their own informational booths where some provided even more children’s activities. At the 21st Century after-school program table, kids were doing spin art, holding a marker to paper on spinning round wood to make a design.

“The more colors, the more beautiful,” said Denise Arliss, site coordinator.

Melissa Butler, a high-school teacher, was watching her daughter Savannah, a third-grader, try her hand at it.

“I think it’s important to bond with the community, and I think the activities are all educational in a sense. It’s obviously fun,” Butler said. “I don’t think that good, clean fun is readily available, and this was a nice way to pull that together.”

At the Boys & Girls Clubs table, kids tried playing various musical instruments, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program taught them how to make paper flowers at their “make friendships bloom” booth. Students from Korea, Nepal and China were at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Intercultural Affairs Booth, translating children’s names into their native languages and helping them make boondoggle lanyards using the colors of various countries.

Many businesses brought culturally diverse foods for the event. Throughout the building, a variety of music and dance were performed through the evening.

Susan McGowan, school social worker and a member of the festival committee, said she thought the community had been anticipating the event this year after last year’s success.

“We have such a wonderful, diverse population of families, and school’s a wonderful place to kind of make that a home base and celebrate that,” she said.