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Release: Immediate

Ritual and Symbolism highlight 10th annual UI Cultural Diversity Festival

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Local residents can celebrate cultures from different parts of the world through a rich blend of food, dances, games, music and educational presentations at the 10th annual Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival (CCDF) Sunday, Feb 28, from noon to 5 p.m. at the University of Iowa Field House.

This year the event takes a new twist by starting off at noon with a blessing by Victor White, a Native American spiritual leader of the Meskwaki Nation. The blessing, for the goodwill of humanity, replaces the multicultural parade, which had kicked off previous festivals. This will be followed by Native American dance and drumming.

As a token of appreciation and respect, UI President Mary Sue Coleman will present a ceremonial blanket to White.

Admission to the event is free, but those attending are urged to bring cash to purchase tickets for food and crafts at the vending booths. Credit cards and checks will not be accepted.

This year's event includes two special themes, "Ritual and Symbolism" and "Diversity within Iowa." Ritual and Symbolism features events such as "Tying the Knot" which will focus on marriage ceremonies in different cultures. In the section on diversity within Iowa, audiences will enjoy Czech music, Irish songs, and egg decorating.

Liz Pearce, the celebration's co-founder and an assistant director in UI International Programs, says this special section of diversity within Iowa will help to dispel the stereotype of Iowa as a monocultural European-descent state.

"Obviously, the first settlers in Iowa were not European, they were indigenous people," Pearce said. "We thought it would be appropriate to start the celebration with a blessing and music and dance by representatives of the Meskwaki nation. The people of Iowa can trace their roots back to many nations. Immigrants came from many European, African, Asian and Latin American countries. We've tried to reflect some of this heritage in the cultural programs that we will offer."

The celebration showcases more than 50 programs representing both international and domestic diversity. Events include pinata breaking, a fashion show, contemporary Indian dance, intercultural activities for children, Tai Chi and much more.

"The food is always so good and there is often so much activity on the main deck that participants are often quite happy to stay in this area," Pearce said. "I would really encourage everyone who comes to attend some of the programs in the various activity rooms. I think people will be surprised at what we have to offer."

There will also be cultural educational programs such as panel discussions on inaccuracies and stereotypes of classic Disney movies and a panel session on study abroad opportunities.

This year the CCDF committee estimates attendance of more than 5,000 people, making this the second largest UI-sponsored non-athletic event.

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 at the stadium for free, and then take a bus to the Field House. The buses 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 is also available at the University Parking Ramp 4, as well as in Lot 13 next to Hillcrest Residence Hall, Lot 6, next to the Field House and Lot 14, across from the Field House.

The festival is coordinated by the following UI offices and departments: Alumni Association; Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREEES); International Programs; Office of Admissions; Office for Student Life; Residence Services; Division of Recreational Services; Opportunity at Iowa; Upward Bound; and Special Support Services. U.S. West is the major corporate sponsor of the festival.

For more information about the festival, contact Pearce at (319) 335-0335.

Following is a tentative schedule of the programs for the Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival:

12-1 p.m.
Purification ceremony Drumming and Native American Dance, Main Deck

12-5 p.m.
Photo exhibit: Ethnic Diversity in West Liberty, Room 461

12:15-1 p.m.
Fashion Show, North Gym

12:30-1 p.m.
Chinese music, art and activities, Room E220
Shinkendo: Japanese Sword & History of Samurai, Room 515
Black Genesis Dance Theatre, Aerobic Room 472

12:30-1:30 p.m.
Peace Corps, Room 461

12:45-1:15 p.m.
Irish music by David Hicks, Room 507

12:45-1:30 p.m.
Cambodian Poetry, Staff Lounge

1-1:15 p.m.
Palestinian Dance, North Gym

1-1:30 p.m.
Kick boxing, Room 471

1-3 p.m.
Meditation techniques, Room 511

1:15-1:45 p.m.
Aikido, Main Deck
Shinkendo: Japanese Sword & History of Samurai for kids, Room 515
Contemporary Indian Dance, Aerobic Room 472

1:15-2:15 p.m.
Ballet Folklorica, North Gym

1:15-2:30 p.m.
Chinese music, art and activities, Room E220

1:30-1:45 p.m.
Vietnamese dance, Room 507

1:30-2 p.m.
Around the World in 30 minutes (Study Abroad), Room 461
Traditional Native American flute playing, Aerobic Room 472

1:30-2:30 p.m.
Yoga, Room 471
"The King and I," discussion of the Disney film, Room 402

1:45-2:45 p.m.
Egg decorating demonstration and oral presentation, Staff Lounge

2-2:15 p.m.
Thai classical dance, Room 507

2-2:30 p.m.
Around the World in 30 minutes (Study Abroad), Room 461

2-2:45 p.m.
Czech Band, Main Deck
"Perpetual Deep" Acid Jazz Band, Room 515

2:15-2:45 p.m.
Raymundo y Tomas Latino Guitar Duo, Aerobic Room 472

2:30-2:45 p.m.
African fashions, Room 507

2:30-3: 15 p.m.
Swedish Massage, Room 471
Middle Eastern Dancing, North Gym

2:30-3:30 p.m.
"Hercules," discussion of the Disney film, Room 402

2:30-3:45 p.m.
Tying the Knot, Room 461

2:30-4:30 p.m.
Multicultural activities for children, E220

3­3:15 p.m.
Hawaiian dance, Room 507

3-3:30 p.m.
Scottish Highlanders, Main Deck

3-3:45 p.m.
Swing dance, Aerobic Room 472

3:15-3:45 p.m.
Sudanese fashion and Music, Room 507

3:15-4 p.m.
Demonstration by Iowa City Tae Kwon Do Club, Room 511
Spanish Bingo, Staff Lounge

3:15-4:15 p.m.
Tai Chi, Room 471
UI International Folk Dance Club, Room 515

3:30-4 p.m.
Voices of Soul, North Gym

3:30-4:30 p.m.
"Pochahontas," discussion of the Disney film, Room 402

3:45-4:30 p.m.
UI Steel Drum Ensemble, Main Deck
Ethnic Diversity in West Liberty, discussion of Photo Exhibit, Room 46

4:00-4:30 p.m.
Step Show, North Gym
American Indian storytelling, Room 507
Indian Dance from the film "Dil Se," Aerobic Room 472

4:30-4:40 p.m.
Pinata breaking, Main Deck