On April 1, 2012, my friend and I attended the International Festival at the Ted constant center in Norfolk, VA. This was a very diverse and colorful event with a number of people from all different backgrounds contributing to the event. There so many to choose from, and I could hardly decide who to talk too about their ethnic background, and many of them were so busy during this event. I spoke with a girl who made handcrafted dolls to support the women of Thailand (Parham, 2000). The funds raised help women and children have rice and bread to feed their families. The crafter's name was Sue Lee, and I asked her just a few questions about her culture like how did she come to the United States, what language she spoke and what kind of democracy does she have in her country. Sue Lee said she and her family moved here when she was just 4 years old, and her mother married her father, who is American and military, so they all moved here to the United States and started their family. The rest of her family is very poor, and they help support them. In her country, they all speak Thai, Chinese, Malay, Lao, and English. The government is more of a constitutional monarchy and concentrates on religion. Sue Lee is very happy to grow up here in the United States and hope to she can help bring more of her family here and out of Thailand.
Sue Lee stressed about how poor it is out there, and most of her family still resides in Bangkok, which is the capital of Thailand; the country does not have opportunities like the U.S does, and it is very hard her them to get cleared to come to the United States. This was all Sue Lee wanted to share with me because it involves her family, and it is very hard emotionally to discuss, so I thanked her for her time and purchased one of her hand made dolls. I was interested in Turkish vendor items and Egyptian vendor items and their stories of how they made certain arts and crafts and their costumes. Each of them had a compelling story to share.
Reflection of the experience
I enjoyed myself at this festival mostly because of the people I spoke to and of course the food was great. I made sure I sampled food that I had never tried before and avoided anything familiar to me. For example, I am familiar with Spanish/Mexican food and soul food, so I tried a dish from the Bangkok Garden and the Mayflower cafe, which is Turkish style food. It was very different but tasty. Most of the foods had beef and pork, and I cannot eat those, so I ate anything, vegetables, soup, and bread. I watched a number of dance performances which were very exciting because there were so many of them and each was from a different ethnic group.
The groups I enjoyed the most were the Ya Gamila Bellydance organization, the Zumba ladies, the Bangladeshi student association, and the Bellydance Naval Academy, which I used to dance with 5 years ago (Alvarez, 2001). I love the colorful costumes, the amazing dances, and the families joining in to dance below the stage. Children and families of all races and backgrounds mixed together on the dance floor having a good time really help set the tone and the purpose of the event. I liked to see young children being exposed to other young children who are from different ethnic backgrounds because it will help them become more open-minded and diverse in their adolescence. I want my own children to attend events such as these very early in their lives and throughout their childhood to expand their views on other cultures.
Alvarez, A. N. (2001). Racial identity and reflected appraisals as influences on Asian Americans' racial adjustment. . Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, , 7(3), 217.
Parham, T. A. (2000). Attitudes of racial identity and self-esteem of Black students: An exploratory investigation. Journal of College Student Personnel.
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