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Release: Immediate

Human rights featured during ninth annual UI Cultural Diversity Festival

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Music, dance, costumes, and food from all over the world will be part of the ninth annual Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival Sunday, Feb. 22 from noon to 5 p.m. at the University of Iowa Field House. Middle Eastern and African dance, Indian music, and Native American storytelling are just a few of the more than 50 activities that will take place during the five-hour festival.

The festival, which is free and open to the public, will begin with a multi-cultural Olympic-style parade on the Main Deck at 12:15 p.m., featuring participants from many different domestic and international cultures.

This year, the festival's programming is connected with Global Focus: Human Rights 1998, a major UI initiative to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Throughout the 1998-99 academic year, Global Focus will feature speakers and scholarly lectures, community forums and arts events, teacher-training workshops and curricular innovations related to human rights issues.

Burns Weston, UI associate dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies and the chairman of the UI human rights initiative, will deliver the festival's keynote address, "International Human Rights: Unity in Diversity." Weston will speak at 12:30 p.m. in the North Gym of the Field House, after opening remarks by UI President Mary Sue Coleman who will also introduce Curtis Stamp, manager - Public Policy, for US WEST, the major corporate sponsor of the festival.

The festival will also address human rights issues with a panel discussion at 1:15 p.m. in Room 302 of the Field House. Among the participants are Weston and UI students Yenner Karto, a former Liberian refugee, and Amy Weismann, who worked at a Bosnian refugee camp for more than two years.

Liz Pearce, the festival's co-founder and head of UI International Programs Training, Outreach and Programming Department, said it's a natural connection to celebrate human rights at a cultural diversity festival because human rights violations in many cases cause the "denigration of the cultural diversity."

"What we aim to do in the event is to celebrate cultural diversity," Pearce said," but it is also really important that we look at the other end of the spectrum - what happens if we don't celebrate cultural diversity."

Some other panel discussions included in this year's program will address intercultural adoption, intercultural relationships, internships, and short-term study abroad. Much of the programming remains unchanged from previous festivals and includes an international fashion show, music and dance performances, arts and crafts displays and various activities for children. Vending booths will carry diverse ethnic foods, with recipes available for many of them.

Most of the participants are volunteers from the UI and Iowa City communities.

"The festival would not be possible without the support from many people on the UI campus and the local community," Pearce said. "An incredible amount of people-hours goes into this event."

The festival typically attracts 5,000 people, which makes it the second largest UI-sponsored non-athletic event. Last year more than 60 international and domestic cultures were represented.

Although admission to the event is free, those attending are urged to bring cash to purchase tickets for food and crafts as credit cards and checks will not be accepted.

To help alleviate parking congestion, a free shuttle service is being provided to the festival from the UI Recreation Building parking lot west of Kinnick Stadium. Visitors can park there for free, and then ride in vans directly to the Field House. The vans will run every 10 minutes starting at 11:30 a.m. with the last one leaving the Field House to return to the parking lot at 5:15 p.m.

Parking will also be available at the University Parking Ramp 4, which can be entered off of Hawkins Drive, turning east at the UI Hospital's Pomerantz Family Pavilion. Another parking facility is available just south of the UI Field House.

The festival is coordinated by the following UI offices and departments: Alumni Association, The School of Art and Art History, Office of Campus Programs and Student Activities, International Programs, Residence Services, Division of Recreational Services, Office of Admissions, Iowa Memorial Union Food Service, Opportunity at Iowa and Special Support Services.

For more information about the festival, call Akua Akyea at (319) 353-2355.

Following is a tentative schedule of events for the Celebrating Cultural Diversity Fesitval:


Demonstration by Iowa City Tae Kwon Do Club

12:15-12:45 p.m.

Opening Ceremony (parade to N. Gym)

12:30 p.m.

North Gym: Opening Remarks by UI President Mary Sue Coleman

1 p.m.

Room 354: Panel Discussion on Cross Cultural Adoption

Room 402: French language and culture

1:15 p.m.

Room 471: Taoist Tai Chi Demonstration

Main Deck: Iowa City Drum Circle

Aerobic Room 472: Rap Recollection

North Gym: Fashion Show

201 Lounge (children's room): Hungarian Rhythms

Room 302: Panel discussion -- Human Rights 98

Burns Weston

Yenner Karto

Amy Weismann

Room 461: International Games

1:30 p.m.

Room S515 (mat room): International Folk Dancing

1:45 p.m.

Room 461: Spanish Bingo

2 p.m.

Main Deck: Aikido Demonstration

Aerobic Room 472: Not Just For Freaks or Weirdos: Drag as culture

North Gym: UI Jazz Ensemble

201 Lounge (children's room): African Games

Room 354: Panel Discussion on Intercultural Relationships

Room 402: Japanese language and culture

2:15 p.m.

Room E220: Puerto Rican Cooking Demonstration

Room 461: Chinese Music, Art and Activities

2:30 p.m.

Room 471: Internal Martial Arts

Main Deck: Scottish Highlanders

North Gym: Black Genesis Dance Group

Room 302: Struggling for traces of cool air

Room S515 (mat room): Capoiera

3 p.m.

Main Deck: Gamelon Performance

Aerobic Room 472: Romanian Dance

North Gym: Latin Dance

201 Lounge (children's room): International Activities for Children

Room 302: The Island

Room 354: Panel Discussion on Internships

Room 402: Spanish language and culture

3:15 p.m.

Room E220: Indian Cooking Demonstration

3:30 p.m.

Room 471: Yoga presentation

Aerobic Room 472: Diasporica

Room 461: "Culture Shock," the game

3:45 p.m.

North Gym: Voices of Soul

Room S515 (mat room): Sari Demonstration

4 p.m.

Aerobic Room 472: Venezuelan Music

Room 402: Turkish language and culture

4:10 p.m.

Main Deck: Pinata Breaking

4:30 p.m.

Main Deck: Steel Band Ensemble

Aerobic Room 472: Tabla Playing and Indian dancing

North Gym: Step Show


Main Deck: Rangoli Demonstration