We had fun representing Haiti at the Spartanburg international festival and I have the honor of giving to my readers a report about how it went down. Let me start by first of all thanking the city of Spartanburg for this wonderful initiative. I would like to thank the Haitian consulates in Chicago and Atlanta and all the Haitians who helped me in my booth and also all the countries who participated as well as the organizers which are too many to name. I would also like to think particularly the United States of America to allow us to live and share our diverse cultures in such a welcoming country. This This is our 4th year participating and it keeps on getting better and better. This is how it went down.
The event is usually held on the first Saturday of the month of october which happened to be October 1st of this year. It starts from 11:00 AM till 7:00 PM but I was there as early as 8:30 AM since we had to be ready by 10:00 AM. At the entrance of the park you have immigration where the kids and adults as well are given a passport and each country as a stamp with the name of the country on it and this is the proof that the person has been in this country. Participants are encourage to ask questions about the country that they are visiting and just in case they have no clue what to ask specially for kids there is a list of questions they can use which is posted in each tent/country such as: how much is a loaf of bread in your country, the price of gas, the kind of animals etc... and some schools and universities even give their students credits for participating.
|Kids from Laos in their native outfit!|
Of course you know kids and even adults will just try to collect as much stamps as possible in the quickest time possible without really inquiring about what is going on in the specific country they are getting the stamp from. This is why in Haiti we went a little step further, everyone who came to get their passport stamp if they did not ask a question we ask them one, first of all they have to come all the way through so that they can read about Haiti and view what we have and in return we ask them question like: can you tell me one fact about Haiti? For 2-3 year olds we asked them by showing them the flag to show us the color blue or red and yes they knew it, or the older one can they spell Haiti etc... In other words, it was very instructive for everyone. All this was the avenue of Nations!
|Getting a stamp|
Here is a list of the countries who participated in the Avenue of Nations: Austria, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Laos , Latvia, Mexico, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania, Ukraine and the United States of America.
There is a big stage called Global stage where different performers can exhibit their talents and it range from children choir to tap dancers, salsa dancers etc.... and more stages all around the parks meaning at anytime during the day there was something going on.
There was one street block and this was the International Boulevard of food and you can buy food from different countries! I am telling you these people can cook! From Bethlehem to Jamaica without forgetting Mexico and many more there were a dozen or more countries represented in this section. There was also the Global Interest Groups ranging from Faith oriented school to English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) International Kids Zone: Had a lots of kids activities, crafts and a stage of non-stop full entertainment. The global sports Zone: Which emphasizes the national sports of different countries, they had of course soccer (goooooaaaaaalllllllllll!!!!! You know what I am talking about if you ever watch soccer or been in a game), Ping Pong, Washer Toss, Hackey Sack, Chess, Badminton, Ladder Golf, Cornhold, Rock CLimbing Wall, Cubb (Swedish Game), Fencing, Zumba and so forth....
Last but not least the International Trade Zone: where you can purchase items that give back to the artisans and their community. There was an eclectic mix of commercial imports from around the globe for sale in the Trade Zone. Vendors display a variety of souvenir goods and items from the global trade market. Imports from China, Ireland, Japan Indonesia and more will was present. Each year there a country or continent is honored and the Europe's Nordic Region is our Honored Countries. Countries represented were: Denmar, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden.
This event is visited by more than 8000 people and for me the best part is always at 2:00 PM when we have the Parade of Nations. How beautiful it is to see all these countries coming together for one cause only to celebrate our diversities rather than fight each other. None of us is better than the other, we all have our own cultures, our taboos, our differences, our own background and history but when you look at it in apositive way, this is what makes the world so fascinating! How boring would have it been if I go to the US and see the same scenery that I saw in Africa or Scotland or Haiti? We have to come together and celebrate our diversities 'cause I am pretty sure that what God had in mind when he created us. Let's love each other and respect each other. Next year, God willing, this is the place to be! Let's get back to the we had fun part and if you do not believe me, take a look at this video of a spontaneous celebration after the Parade of nations:
Here is a video montage of Goupstate.com
Now, please enjoy these random pictures of the festival
Click here for more pictures of the Spartanburg International Festival.