Culturefest offers ethnic food, fun

Posted Nov. 05, 2008, at 6:43 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:54 a.m.

ORONO, Maine — Cultural exhibits, traditional singing, dancing, clothing and an international smorgasbord of foods featuring spicy Indian and Sri Lankan curries, Vietnamese spring rolls and delicacies from the Middle East, are on the program for this year’s 21st annual Culturefest 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at the University of Maine Field House.

The annual Culturefest attracts more than 1,000 visitors from campus and communities across Maine. It is sponsored by the UMaine Office of International Programs and National Student Exchange as a showcase of talent, style and cuisine from cultures of the world.

Culturefest is free and open to the public. Ethnic food is served from the food court for a nominal contribution to cover the cost of ingredients.

Members of the UMaine International Student Association will bring a variety of dishes to the international food court. Others will perform a talent show, a fashion show and staff information tables with maps, flags and cultural artifacts, and will offer children’s activities throughout the day.

This year, the festival will showcase traditional sports and field games such as cricket, shuttlecock and capoeira.

Adults and children are invited to learn first-hand about the cultural themes and customs of the homelands of students from more than 70 countries.

The festival pulls together hundreds of international students eager to discuss ethnic cultures and customs from their home communities in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Students turn out in traditional clothing and costumes representative of their cultures.

“As we become a more global society, the public is realizing more and more the need to learn about cultural differences,” said co-organizer Sarah Joughin of the Office of International Programs and National Student Exchange. “This is a unique and rare opportunity to travel around the world in a single day.”

Karen Boucias, director, Office of International Programs and National Student Exchange, said that the university is fortunate to have such a large international representation.

“Our 450 international students and visiting scholars bring much to the classroom, and Culturefest helps to bring global awareness and understanding to the community,” she said. “Many of the high schools and academies in Maine are creating exciting linkages with other countries, so we will continue to see increased interest in international opportunities, just as we see throughout the University of Maine System.”

For information about the 21st Culturefest, call the UM Office of International Programs at 581-2905 or visit www.umaine.edu/international

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