Hobart and William Smith students will be out in full force on Saturday, April 11, giving back to the Geneva community during three different events: Book Fest, Festival of Nations and Day of Service. Event organizers, many from the HWS community, urge members of the greater Geneva community to save the date.
“Community agencies aligned calendars over the fall so that a common spring date could be found to promote shared community vitality interests,” says Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL), who will assist in all three events. “We are excited to see how children and families respond to what will be a busy and fun day in Geneva.”
Book Fest will be held from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the Geneva Community Center. The event, “Read, Sing, Play…Together Every Day!,” includes book-based activities for elementary students hosted by various organizations, including the HWS chapter of America Reads. Free and open to the public, the event also includes games, costumed characters, crafts, theater productions, storybook readings and sing-a-longs. Children in kindergarten through second grade will each take a book home from the event.
“Geneva Reads’ ultimate goal is to provide books and programming that help everyone realize the importance of literacy and that it’s never too soon to begin reading to children,” says Geneva Reads Director Anne Schühle.
A second collaborative event between the Colleges and Geneva City School District, the eighth annual Festival of Nations will be held throughout the halls, library, gymnasium and cafeteria of Geneva high and middle schools. In all, more than 80 local groups and clubs will be represented through music, games, performances and presentations. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in traditions, music, art and foods of the Asian, Caribbean, French, Italian, Jewish, Muslim, Russian and South Asian cultures, among others. Free and open to the public, the festival also will feature diverse musical performances, including children’s and adult choirs, instrumentals and dance.
This year’s Festival of Nations will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. A few of the student groups that will participate in the festival include Geneva Heroes, HWS Rotaract, Geneva High School Interact, Latin American Organization, Anime Central, Hip~NotiQ’s Step & Dance Team, and a cappella group Perfect Third.
“I’m excited that each year the Festival of Nations gets bigger and better as we continue to expand our cultural experiences and offerings,” says High School English Teacher Nikki Kersbergen, chair of the event. “I am proud to work in such a diverse city that comes together to celebrate our diversity. I am also proud of all of our student volunteers. I hope members of the community once again come to celebrate with us!”
In addition to assisting at the Festival of Nations and Book Fest, HWS will give back to the greater community at more than 20 other sites throughout the day. Students will travel to locations ranging from Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua, Kashong Conservation Area located seven miles south of Geneva to Beverly Animal Shelter in Waterloo and the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls. Much of the site work carried out through Day of Service will include environmental conservation and clean-up activities, as well as basic care necessary for operation.
A Geneva tradition for nearly 20 years, Day of Service became Days of Service in 2008 when students and CCESL added new Days of Service throughout the year so that more HWS and Geneva community members could get involved and enhance local connections.
CCESL estimates that student participation will exceed 200 and hopefully amount to nearly 300. Members of the greater community are also encouraged to participate. To register for Day of Service, please fill out this form. Participants will meet on The Quad at noon on Saturday, April 11, having lunch before boarding buses to the respective service sites. The event is expected to last until 4 p.m. that day. For additional information regarding Day of Service, please contact the event chairs Sophie Halter ’16 and James Lee ’16.
“It will be a great day for the Geneva community, with the Festival of Nations and Book Fest joining the many Day of Service projects,” says Jeremy Wattles, assistant director of CCESL, who is organizing the Day of Service activities. “It’s great to celebrate literacy and cultural diversity on the same day, and it’s our hope that many community members will attend both events.”