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YMCA diversity celebration offers variety of activities
Lakewood gears up for cultural exchange festival with Arlington, Marysville schools
MARYSVILLE The YMCA of Snohomish County celebrated diversity last weekend at four locations in Monroe, Mukilteo, Everett and Marysville, and the three local school districts plan a cultural exchange festival later this month.
The Y celebration had a variety of arts and crafts, music, entertainment and demonstrations involving people of different ethnicities from around the world. The May 5 event in Marysville featured the Clan Heather Dancers from Bellingham and a team from Hokulanis Hula Studio in Everett. Visitors to the free Saturday event received a passport that could be stamped at each of more than 20 booths with demonstrations and information about cultures from around the globe.
A similar cultural exchange fair will be held in the Lakewood High School Commons on Tuesday, May 15, from 6:30 - 8 p.m. That event will include exchange students or recent arrivals from around the world who attend Lakewood, Arlington or Marysville high schools. They will tell their stories and share their experiences at the event.
Theres a lot of students coming from out of the country that we can learn from, explained Oscar Escalante, a member of the Lakewood School District Board of Directors and a native of El Salvador who has lived in the United States since fleeing a civil war in the early 1970s.
He said all three high schools started with the idea of a breakfast meeting where students could chat about their impressions of American culture versus that of their native lands, and the event was eventually scheduled in the evening instead so more community members could attend.
Its a timely endeavor, said Escalante, who has been on the school board for five years.
Being involved in education, one of the major aspects in this area, some of the kids are not exposed to other cultures, he said. We can all get a better understanding of the people.
I think its important to be multi-cultural. Its important for the individuals growth and so we can understand other people.
The Marysville Sunrise Rotary is spearheading the effort with sponsorship from four restaurants as diverse as they come. Los Corona, Major League Pizza, Fannys Restaurant and the new Der Weinerschnitzel will all be there. The banker laughed because he said he will be able to figuratively tour the world at the dinner table, getting a taco, hot dog, a pizza and an apple pie at same time. Thats if his belt can handle the load.
I was laughing, Escalante said. I think that its important to have that mix. It will be a good way to bring people together to interact.
Exchange students or recent immigrants, the speakers may bring a postcard or artifact from their homelands and explain the setting or relevance to the audience; they may bring a flag and explain what the various components represent, just like the 13 stripes and 50 stars on Old Glory, for example.
We left it open for them to be sharing with us, Escalante said.
For more information call the Lakewood School District at 360-652-4500.