This year’s Festival of Nations will feature more than 70 local groups and clubs, represented through food, music, games, performances and presentations. This is the largest number of community organizations to have ever been involved with Festival of Nations. The event, hosted by Geneva Middle and High schools in collaboration with Hobart and William Smith Colleges, is a free, multi-cultural celebration for all residents of Geneva. Last year saw record attendance, with more than 3,000 visitors. Approximately 50 community groups were involved.
“Now in its fifth year, this event has been very successful at building community pride 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. “We’ve had a very enthusiastic response every year from people who want to share what they love and give back to the larger community.”
A significant number of diverse cultures represented throughout Geneva will be shared during the event, ranging from Valorie Heinzman and Debbi Mittiga’s North Street School classes presenting Australian arts and crafts, to Geneva High School’s Interact and Multicultural clubs sharing their activities. The Sons of Italy and more than 35 other groups will provide free food samples, sharing tastes of their cultures. Meanwhile, local clubs such as the African American Men’s Association will present information on their activities while William Smith student Sara Wroblewski ’13 will discuss her One Bead project, which seeks to fund education in Eastern Africa.
In addition, multiple HWS student groups will share pieces of their culture. For example, the HWS group Sankofa will demonstrate bead bracelet construction; the Latin American Organization will make rain sticks; and the South Asian Culture Club will demonstrate Henna tattoos.
Musical performances will range from piano to jazz, step-dancing to hip-hop, affording something for everyone. Among the many acts performing are the Geneva Hispanic Church of God Choir; the Mission Youth Choir from the Mt. Olive Baptist Church; St. Peter’s Arts Academy Choir; high school singing trio the Alley Cats of Alison Chapin, Katrina Amberg and Kat McCorkle; pianist and William Smith junior Congjing Zhong; pianists and elementary students Ro-Ann and Enya Shen; soloist and elementary student Jackie Bivens; and high school student Delaney Higgins will play the ukulele.
During last year’s event, participants and visitors provided much-needed support for victims of Japan’s devastating tsunami. This year, Festival of Nations will assist local community members in need through support of the Center of Concern.
This year’s event will feature a more spacious layout that will make it easier for families with children and seniors to maneuver, as well as seating areas. Shuttles will run from the Festival to the Geneva Courtyard Apartments.
Festival of Nations will be held on Saturday, March 31, from 1 – 3 p.m. A flavorful mix of foods from around the world will be served and there will be a Cook Off on Friday, March 30, at 3 p.m. in the Geneva High School cafeteria.
The event is free and open to the public. For more information, or if you are interested in volunteering, please contact Kersebergen at 315-781-0402 or Nkersbergen@genevacsd.org.
In the photo above, students in Joan Fratangelo’s class in the Health Suite at Geneva High School bake pizzelle cookies for the Festival.