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International Programs
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-2026

Release: Feb. 11, 2002

Photos (top to bottom):
Participants in the UI’s Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival in Feb. 2001
A gospel choir performs at the festival
Hands-on children’s activities are always part of the festival

UI Cultural Diversity Festival celebrates “Unifying Humanity” Feb. 24

Thousands of people from across eastern Iowa will gather at the University of Iowa Field House in a spirit of unity during the University of Iowa's 13th Annual Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival (CCDF) Sunday, Feb. 24 from noon-5 p.m. This year’s theme is “Unifying Humanity.”

"This year's theme aims to bring people together to reflect upon world events and learn more about the rich sources of diversity and culture that can be found across the world and here in Iowa," said Helen Jameson, festival chair and UI International Programs student activity coordinator.

Entrance to the festival is free, and tickets can be purchased for refreshments and handmade goods. The festival features more than 50 events to promote domestic and international diversity through food, games, songs, dances, cooking demonstrations, storytelling, sports and other educational programming. "This is definitely a family event," said Jameson.

While popular features include music, martial arts, and the international fashion show, there will also be several new features this year.

The Sept. 11 Memorial Room, Room 461 in the UI Field House, is a space dedicated to reflection on this tragic event. The room will display newspaper and magazine coverage from around the globe shortly after the terrorist attacks as well as a mural and a memory journal where people can express their thoughts on the event through pictures or words.

Some other new highlights include an Iowa Room, Sudanese Folk Dancers, an origami crane project demonstration, break dancing, traditional Mexican singing, and a re-enactment of a Malay wedding. Children’s activities will be organized in Room 201 from 1:15-3:45 p.m. There will also be opportunities to participate in breaking a pinata on the UI Field House Main Deck at various times throughout the festival.

"The international population is a tremendous cultural resource for this campus and eastern Iowa. In part, this festival is an opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the cross-cultural experiences and learning that takes place all year around," Jameson said.

The Iowa Room, Room 462 of the UI Field House, will feature Iowa culture, concentrating on local music and artwork and featuring the following musicians, all of whom have strong ties to Iowa: fingerstyle guitar player Phil Heywood; Anthony C. Stevens with African-American history and music; honkey tonk: Roy Wood and the Wrong Crowd; and acoustic music with Bob and Kristie Black. Between performances, there will be an opportunity to play an Iowa history game where participants can win prizes.

Main stage events include performances by the following: Sudanese folk music and dance; the Grinnell College Young Gifted and Black Gospel Choir; the Afro-Cuban Drum Ensemble; the UI Pan-American Steel Band; The Latin Jazz Ensemble, Yahoo Drummers; and a Drum Circle by the African Student Association.

On the UI campus there are an estimated 2,000 international students and scholars who represent more than 100 countries around the world, as well as more than 2,500 domestic minority students. Many students will take the opportunity to share parts of their cultures with performances as diverse as classical dance from India to music from Latin America.

The festival is a representation of the commitment to bring educational and new cultural experiences to communities, Jameson said. The event annually attracts an estimated 5,000 visitors, making it one of the largest UI-sponsored, non-athletic events.

Parking for the event is available in University Lots 6, 13, 14 and Hospital Ramp 4. 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 van to the Field House. The vans 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.

The Qwest Foundation is the official corporate sponsor of this event. The festival is co-sponsored by the UI Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival Committee, which comprises the following UI groups and offices: Admissions, International Programs and The Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization, Student Life, Opportunity at Iowa, Recreational Services, Residence Services, Special Support Services, and Staff Council.

For more information about the festival, contact Helen Jameson at (319) 335-0345 or Lois Gray at (319) 335-2026. Or, visit the Web site at to view the festival schedule of events. For the most up-to-date schedule, pick up a festival program at the door the day of the event.