"Finding ways to integrate some of these more sheltered, more rural, students can be challenging, but the payoff is huge." - Emilee Carr
GS student Pardiss Moazzam finishes a portrait to showcase at the 12th annual International Festival.
Preparation Begins for Annual International Festival
By: Casey Rohlen
November 3, 2017
As fall turns to winter, international and local-grown Statesboro residents ready themselves for the yearly International Festival held each November. The 12th annual festival promises a wide variety of activities and performances to acclimate the participant’s peers to their unique traditions. As the date draws nearer, patrons of multicultural backgrounds are buckling down in preparation for this year’s festivities.
Student and faculty representatives from around the Bulloch County School District present the customs of different cultures in one of the festival’s main attractions, the “Global Village”. From the different countries represented, children have the opportunity to learn hand-in-hand with residents of the regions to better understand their respective cultures.
In the mind of Georgia Southern Study Abroad Advisor Emilee Carr, this is one of the more challenging, yet ultimately rewarding, components of organizing the festival.
“Finding ways to integrate some of these more sheltered, more rural, students can be challenging, but the payoff is huge,” Carr continued, “Kids have a lust for knowledge so if we do our jobs right as organizers then this builds an off-campus interest in the community where we can all get to mingle and learn.”
While Carr helps organize the showcase alongside Global Ambassador Graduate Assistant Stanly Oseghale, festival coordinator Angie Threatte oversees much of the other behind-the-scenes work. Threatte’s work for the next year’s festival begins almost as soon as the one at hand finishes.
From reviewing applications from food venders, to organizing the performers, find sponsors, and training volunteers, organizing an event of this magnitude can be a daunting task. Never one to back down from a challenge, Threatte sees the greater meaning behind the veil of a fun day in the park.
“When they [kids] see people dressed in their native attire, like the dancers, it’s so heartwarming. Their faces light up with discovery,” Threatte said with gusto, “Children only know what they know, until we show them we are all people of earth, then these rural kids will never have the chance to grow.”
For anyone to experience cultural immersion, members of the differing cultures themselves must first desire to share their expressions.
Influencers like Pardiss Moazzam, a sophomore Georgia Southern art student, are the driving force behind the festival’s success. Since immigrating to Statesboro three years ago from Tehran, Moazzam expressed that she’s felt a warm acceptance from her adopted community. An acceptance she said she hopes to help spread through her artwork at this year’s festival.
“While my artwork is not Iranian in nature, it serves as a conversation point for me to explain a part of me to people. I spent a great time [sic] preparing it. Art stands for something greater, it’s subjective. Just like one’s culture cannot be understood unless you take the time to interpret it,” said Moazzam.
This year’s Georgia Southern University International Festival will be held free of charge on November 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mill Creek Regional Park. The gathering will feature a market, food vendors, performances, and the all-important global village. For more information, you can contact Angie Threatte at 912-478-0570 or email her at email@example.com.