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Festival of Nations offers 'Passport to the World'

From right, Bemidji State University international students Suhaila Suhari, YaLing He, Su-Min Chu and, blocked from view, Jamie Koh rehearse a dance they will perform at Festival of Nations from 3-7 p.m. Saturday at the BSU Beaux Arts Ballroom. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

At Festival of Nations Saturday, international students from Bemidji State University will offer the Bemidji community a "Passport to the World."

Now in its 40th year, the event will showcase the sights, sounds and flavors of cultures around the globe from 3-7 p.m. in BSU's Beaux Arts Ballroom.

Originally established as Feast of Nations in 1969 by BSU's International Student Organization, the event expanded into a festival in 2005.

Suhaila Suhari, a BSU senior from Malaysia who is coordinating this year's event, said Festival of Nations is a time for international students to share their cultures with Americans.

The best way to share cultures, Suhari believes, is to share food from the cultures.

At the festival, samples of 30 entrées and other food items from around the world will be available for purchase, ranging from Thai pineapple fried rice to Lebanese green bean salad to curried banana from the Bahamas.

Recipes and history of the dishes will be provided. There will also be a food performance from the stage as emcees and others share about countries' food backgrounds and more.

During the festival's opening ceremonies, a Parade of Nations will be held.

The festival also will feature a fashion show of traditional costumes from a variety of countries and performances, including singing and dances.

The festival's exhibits and activities will include origami, Chinese calligraphy, henna tattooing, language learning, interactive games from around the world and information on countries from embassies.

Festival T-shirts and cultural merchandise will be on sale during the event and a variety of raffles and giveaways also will be available.

As part of the festival and International Student Organization this year, Suhari said international students at BSU plan to support the university's Go Green campaign by planting five trees and installing a globe art piece on campus before the end of the semester.