With a variety of activities and presentations from Hobart and William Smith faculty, student groups and Geneva School District students, local community members can look forward to a celebration of Geneva’s diversity next weekend.
The Geneva City School District will present the third annual Festival of Nations on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Geneva Middle and High Schools on Carter Road. Last year’s attendance exceeded 1,000 community members, and this year organizers are expecting even more to join in the celebration of the art, music, food and culture found in Geneva.
Geneva High School student, Andy Peng, one of more than 30 students, staff, parents and other volunteers planning the Festival of Nations, wants the Festival to be one of celebration. “We are all different and people have to learn to enjoy and accept difference,” Peng says. “The Festival gives us a chance to reflect and celebrate on our diversity.”
Among the many manifestations of diversity at the Festival this year will be increased involvement from students and faculty at HWS. Several HWS student groups and individuals from around the world are planning activities and presentations Including Henna demonstrations; face painting; calligraphy; a Kung Fu demonstration; a performance by the step dance team, Hip-Notiqs; an information booth sponsored by Hope House, the Colleges’ cancer awareness organization; Chinese name writing and cooking; a Zumba class; a presentation by Geneva Reads; and more.
“We are excited to witness a new level of involvement among the students of Hobart and William Smith,” said Karen Simon, high school assistant principal. “In our inaugural year, we were happy to have the assistance of one Hobart student and this year there will be dozens. One of the goals of the Festival is to bring the community together. We are proud to include all members of the community in our celebration and grateful for the interest of those attending Hobart and William Smith, especially their international students who are so willing to share their heritage.”
Donated by more than 24 area businesses, various cultural cuisine will be represented at tables set up throughout the high school and middle school.
Another highlight of the event will be provided by the multicultural club at the high school. Each month high school club members have been meeting with middle school students to work on art projects. The artwork created by the team of middle and high school students will be featured at the Festival of Nations along with artwork created in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday last month.
The broad range of musical entertainment, reflecting the varied interests and backgrounds of community members, will include local rockers El Ka Bong, the Geneva high school and middle school bands, an African drumming ensemble, a ukulele player, a jazz performance, an Italian opera singer and a short concert by the members of St. Peter’s Choir.
Community organizations, like the Geneva Human Rights Commission, the HWS Office of Intercultural Affairs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the African American Men’s Association, will be at the event to promote their services and resources.
William Smith alumna Celeste Orton ’09, who works for the Geneva Human Rights Commission, has participated every year and is on this year’s planning committee. “Bringing together the entire Geneva community is the focus of this event. We are celebrating Geneva’s greatest strength-it’s diversity,” she says.
This year’s Festival of Nations will support “Hope for Haiti,” an effort organized by several high school students to collect money for the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund. Students collected cans and bottles and set up collection jars throughout the community. During the Festival, a silent auction will be held in the high school library.
Student organizer Moriah Murphy, a high school junior, says it’s important to help Haiti. “Even though it happened so far away, we need to come together as a community to help another community in need.”