October 3, 2003
The various cultures and nationalities of students, alumni, faculty and staff of the University of Maine at Fort Kent over the past quarter century, will be celebrated in a two-day event on Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18, open to both the campus and community.
"Celebrate Culture Days", an event coordinated to coincide with UMFK's year-long 125th anniversary commemoration, will involve presentations, interactive displays, food tasting, fashion and performing arts exhibitions from 25 different nations and various cultures of individuals who have made their mark on the university community over the past 25 years.
Activities get underway on Friday, October 17 at 1:00 p.m. in the Grindle conference room of Cyr Hall, with a series of presentations by UMFK faculty members, which are either representative of their personal background or that of the people of a specific culture they have researched.
Mariella Squire, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology, will lead the afternoon sessions with a discussion on the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet cultures in the region. She will be followed by several other faculty members who will speak on other cultures.
Weekend events will resume Saturday, October 18 at 11:00 a.m. in the Nadeau Hall teleconference room, when the tables are turned and UMFK students themselves become the presenters.
Twenty-five interactive booths will be set up in the room, each featuring the nation or culture of students that have made up UMFK's student body in the last quarter century. Wherever possible, the booths will be manned by students from the country or culture presented.
Among those represented will be the 18 countries of students currently attending UMFK including Angola, Argentina, Bermuda, Ghana, Germany, Ireland, India, Israel, Jamaica, Lithuania, Liberia, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Vietnam, the West Indies, as well as the United States and Canada.
Several other countries of UMFK alumni will also be featured. Current students have been working with university graduates from these nations to prepare their booth presentation.
In addition to the nations, cultures will also be represented, including the local Acadian and Franco-American cultures predominant in the St. John Valley.
"This is not a sit down and I'll teach you about my culture event. It is an interactive way to learn about someone else," said Raymond Phinney, assistant director of residence life and diversity programming at UMFK. "This campus has grown a lot in its 125 years. It was founded in 1878 to serve the Acadian and Franco American people of the Valley, but has since grown to serve both people of the region and people of the world. Looking back, it is mind boggling to see the different countries that are and have been represented at UMFK. When we consider the history of the institution it is imperative that we look at all who have helped this campus grow."
The booth displays will be followed at 12:15 p.m. with a unique cultural food fair in the Bengal's Lair that will include dishes from the 25 different nations and cultures represented.
Students will prepare the food and visitors to the fair will pay $1 per serving of food for each national or cultural dish they wish to taste.
Once fair attendees have had a taste of food from the various countries and cultures represented, they will be treated to a feast for the eyes with a fashion show and talent exhibition that will begin at 1:45 in the Fox Auditorium.
This part of the day's events will involve UMFK students from various nations modeling their traditional costumes, while others perform traditional dances or demonstrate unique games.
"I feel this is a great opportunity for individuals on campus and in the community to experience different cultures and to promote both diversity and unity," said Phinney.
Community members interested in participating in the cultural talent exposition or individuals needing further information should contact Phinney at (207) 834-7665.