Geneva High and Middle schools will soon play host to nations across the globe. In a collaborative effort between the school district and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the annual Festival of Nations, will be held on Saturday, April 9 from 1 – 3 p.m. Through art, food, performances, music and cultural presentations, the Festival of Nations is an opportunity for the members of the Geneva community to come together.
“This event is about building community and furthering the relationship between the Geneva community and the Colleges,” explains Nikki Kersbergen, the event organizer and an English teacher at Geneva High School. “It’s a way to come together and give back to the larger community. It’s a celebration of what we have in common, but also a celebration of diversity.”
Now in its fourth year, the festival is bigger and more vibrant than it has ever been before. With nearly 50 groups and clubs represented, there will be a multitude of booths introducing attendees to the diverse population of Geneva through music, food, art and a variety of cultural activities. The afternoon will also include exciting activities such as face painting, henna demonstrations, a cappella performances, and a community resource fair.
A flavorful mix of foods from around the world will be served – everything from cookies to soup – and there will be a Cook Off on Friday, April 1, at 3 p.m. in the Geneva High School cafeteria. “The cook off will be bigger and better than last year,” says Kersbergen. This year’s offerings include enchiladas, caramel apples, pasta and more. “The kids will all be cooking together, and just about every restaurant in Geneva is donating something – from food to napkins.”
The event is free and open to the public, and this year, the planning committee is reaching out to include more members of the Geneva community. “We will have shuttles that will go to all of the senior living centers,” says Kersbergen.
The festival will also showcase a unique photography project organized by Alan Baker, a teacher at Geneva High School, and two of his students, seniors Emily Stella and Kristin Riek. The students will be capturing diversity in Geneva High and Middle schools through black and white photography, which will be put on display at the event.
In fact, many students at the high school are lending a hand to make this year’s festival even more successful than the last. “There is a lot of anticipation among the students,” remarks Kersbergen. “High school students will be doing some security and working at the cook off. The National Honor Society will be running games from different cultures such as mancala and chess, and the Multicultural Club will be decorating the hallways and playing music during the celebration.”
HWS will also be strongly represented at the festival, with nearly all campus cultural clubs attending. Students from the Asian Student Union, the Caribbean Student Association, the Chinese Culture Club, Hillel, the French Heritage Club, the International Student Union, the Irish Heritage Club, the Latin American Organization, Project Nur and Sankofa will share their cultures and experiences with the high school and middle school students.
Community organizations participating include PBIS, the Geneva Human Rights Commission, the African America Men’s Association, NAACP, St. Paul Full Gospel Church, the Sons of Italy, the League of Women Voters Court Watching Volunteers, Finger Lakes Community Health, the Geneva Christian Fellowship and many more.
Local businesses that are contributing to the festival include Club 86 Bagels N Cakes, Belhurst, The Beef and Brew, Cam’s Pizzeria, Ciccino’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, Domino’s Pizza, Eddie O’Brien’s Grille and Bar, Garcias Mexican Restaurant, the Hampton Inn, Hobart and William Smith and Sodexo, Madia’s Big M, Main Moon, Mark’s Pizzeria, normal bread, Opus Espresso and Wine Bar, Parker’s Grille & Tap House, Pepsi Cola Bottling Company, Red Dove Tavern, Red Jacket Orchards, Sons of Italy, Tops Supermarket, Torrey Park Grill, Uncle Joe’s Pizzeria, Wegmans, and Wing Tai.
For more information or if you are interested in volunteering at either the Cook Off or the Festival of Nation please contact Kersebergen at 315-781-0402 or Nkersbergen@genevacsd.org.
The photo above features HWS students from Chinese hosting a table at Festival of Nations 2010.