ABERDEEN, S.D. – Northern State University is collaborating with a wide range of area businesses and civic organizations to make the second Culturefest even bigger than the first.
Culturefest, a celebration of cultures that includes international cuisine and entertainment, will be Friday, Nov. 2. Rounding out the weekend of cultural festivities will be the university’s annual Wacipi (powwow) on Nov. 3. Both events will take place in the newly remodeled NSU Barnett Center.
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Culturefest gives people an opportunity to learn about and gain appreciation for other people’s cultures, said Connie Ruhl-Smith, director of special initiatives.
“NSU is an international institution – we have 200-plus students from all around the globe here,” Smith said. “Unlike most other institutions in the state and region, we focus on undergraduate international students; thus, we want these young students to engage and tell the story of their home communities. Given that Aberdeen is growing in a large-scale cultural sense, this too plays an important part in the nature of this work.”
Smith said organizers want Culturefest to be viewed as a community and regional event rather than a Northern event.
More than 200 people from the community, as well as 500 students, attended last year’s inaugural Culturefest. This year, organizers hope to double the number of community members who attend, Smith said. They also hope to have more cultural groups than the roughly 20 at last year’s event. New international groups will likely be represented, as Northern’s student population changes from year to year, Smith said. Organizers also hope to include local cultures, such area Hutterite colonies, she said.
The event will again have a morning/afternoon session for students and an evening session for the public. Last year, there was international food sampling as well as some international food for sale. This year, food will again be a part of the festivities, though probably in a different form, Smith said. New games for students will also be added, and new cultures will mean there will be different performing groups.
World language students from NSU’s Center for Statewide E-learning high schools have been invited again this year. Northern has also reached out to all schools in a 90-mile radius of Aberdeen, including some schools in North Dakota, Smith said. Travel scholarships will be offered through area companies for students traveling long distances, she said.
November is also Native American Heritage Month. The annual NASA Wacipi (powwow), sponsored by the NSU Native American Student Association (NASA), brings together the NSU and surrounding communities for a day of celebration of Native American cultures. The event, which includes guest drummers and performers, is a meaningful opportunity to highlight new and current Native American students as well as NSU Native American alumni.