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Davis, California

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Around the world in six hours

To celebrate cultural diversity, The International House Davis, also known as the I-House, will be hosting the third annual International Festival Davis (IFD) on Oct. 12 in association with The Culture C.O.-O.P., UC Davis and the City of Davis.

Nearly 30 countries will be represented in order to share a deeper understanding of their world views, aesthetics and cultural heritage in order to bridge the gaps that result from cultural differences.

With “Unity in Diversity” as its motto, the free event will include live music, dance, food, art, fashion, vendors of diverse cultural themes, along with informational booths and a guest speaker. Many of the performers are highly acclaimed in their fields, taking part in national and international events.

Starr Garrison, volunteer coordinator of I-House, created this event in hopes of offering an informal opportunity for people to learn about similarities and differences between themselves and people of other cultures.

“It’s a way of being in a kind of community with somebody who you would never think you would be communal with,” Garrison said.

The first International Festival, which was held in 2011, was a large success. Garrison and Sandy Holman, event coordinator and director of the Culture C.O.-O.P., had only expected a turnout of roughly one thousand people, but it turned out to be three thousand.

Indian, Native Americans, Aztec, Colombian and Indonesian dance troupes, among many others, will be giving lively demonstrations of their heritages.

Galena Street East Productions (GSEP), one of the headlining performers of the event, is a world-renowned dance production that was not only chosen by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to represent California in the Festival of States in Washington, D.C., but also opened for the pre-Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

The GSEP performers, who range from elementary students to young adults, focus on developing their gifts and talents to be able to share them with many nations and communities.

“One of my main focuses is to have different nationalities singing and dancing songs from around the world instead of just one culture doing their own heritage. I feel this creates an interest and eventually an understanding and love of all cultures,” said Jeri Clinger, director of GSEP, in a statement.

Cori Grimsam,  public show coordinator of GSEP, expressed that since most people view music and dance as a way to experience the traditions of different cultures, it remains important to GSEP to achieve authenticity in performances.

“You have to be careful when you’re doing a performance that you’re representing it correctly,” Grimsman said.

But music and dance will not be the only forms of entertainment at the IFD. There will be a fashion show showcasing traditional and modern fashions from around the world. Nathalie Minya, whose designs have appeared on “Oprah,” designed many of the outfits that will be exhibited on the runway.

In past years, the fashion shows in the IFD have always been a highlight of the event. Holman described this aspect of the event as “culture in motion.”

Also attending will be international guest speaker Dr. Tererei Trent, a fellow with the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the Department of Medicine, UC San Francisco.

Trent, who has been involved in HIV prevention research in sub-Saharan Africa, will be sharing her story about growing up in rural Zimbabwe, lacking access to education and rising up to the challenges of the unequal distribution of access to resources and education.

The festival will be held at the Veterans Memorial Center from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, visit internationalfestivaldavis.org.


DANIEL STAECHELIN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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