UI fetes cultural diversity


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Indian folk dancing, South Asian a cappella, slam poetry, and an R&B vocalist — these different art forms may sound like separate events. However, they will be performances at the Oct. 5 University of Iowa Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival in Hubbard Park to recognize the unique aspects of each of them.

Dana Dominguez, a co-head of the festival performance committee, said this year's lineup is very special. While there will be artists who have taken the stage in the past — including the all-woman world band Kol Shira and Mexican, Apache, and Spanish musician Kelly Montijo Fink — there will also be first-timers. One of these new acts is singer, speaker, and "raptivist" Aisha Fukushima of San Francisco.

"I am particularly excited about that performance," Dominguez said. "She will be bringing a loop machine in which the sounds of the audience will be recorded and looped into her performance, making it unique to the University of Iowa."

Live entertainment isn't the only thing festival-goers can expect. The festival will kick off at 11 a.m. with the Carnaval Parade, a colorful Caribbean event featuring aspects of European, African, and South American art. There will also be food from numerous vendors, including famous local chef Wanda Daniel.

Kendra Malone, a co-head of the festival executive planning committee, said the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and the UISG have provided funds for the first 100 UI faculty and staff members and the first 300 students who attend to receive $5 worth of tickets to purchase food from vendors.

The event itself isn't just for students and faculty. Families with young children are encouraged to attend the Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival, because there will be contests and activities specifically for them.

"The youth of our community are the leaders of our future," Dominguez said. "Introducing them to the beauty of diversity at an early age is key to teaching them the value of celebrating difference."
Deandrea Leigh Watkins, a Stem multicultural specialist, who hasn't attended the festival before, said she most looks forward to the family aspect of it. She will work on the family zone committee for the festival.

"There will be lots of family-friendly activities," Watkins said. "We will have cultural games, we'll be painting maracas, and making Mardi Gras masks."

The committee guarantees a fun time for free. However, that isn't the main point of the festival. Dominguez said the festival is a way to celebrate how the UI has long been a leader of the pack when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

"We are truly fortunate to experience so many different cultures represented in our daily lives," Dominguez said. "Experiencing the festival is one of those moments when you look around and think, 'It's great to be a Hawkeye.' "

Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival
When: Noon Oct. 5; Carnaval Parade starts at 11 a.m.
Where: Hubbard Park (Field House in case of rain)
Admission: Free

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