By Rayana Hunt
Student representatives from almost 40 countries kicked off WorldFest 2002 Tuesday in the WSC Garden Court, to share their cultures and talents.
Booths with displays and information about countries filled the Garden Court. Provo Mayor Lewis K. Billings signed a proclamation that declared March 2002 “International Month” in Provo.
The purpose of WorldFest is to spread awareness, said Angela Lindsay, a BYU International Services representative in charge of Tuesday”s activities.
“There”s so much variety and cultures here at BYU that we want to make people aware of that,” Lindsay said.
WorldFest is just as much for the international students as for the rest of the community, said International Services representative Brenda Wadley.
“Most of their college life, they just blend in and get an education like everyone else,” Wadley said. “Once a year they have an opportunity to perform, to show their countries, their culture and to get to feel special.”
International Services have made World Fest a weeklong annual event. Elementary, middle school and high school students will visit the booths in the Garden Court throughout the week, Lindsay said.
Joaquin Elementary brought about 90 students to the kickoff, Lindsay said.
Lisa Hayes, a third-grade teacher at Joaquin, said she brought her students to WorldFest so they could gain an “appreciation for other cultures” and to “realize that Provo, Utah is not it. There”s more outside of this state.”
Performances from a variety of cultures entertained students and spectators.
A BYU Scandinavian choir sang, the Living Legends performed a dance from Ecuador and One Voice hosted a showcase of dances from New Zealand, Tahiti and China.
A Chinese dragon made an appearance as well. The Chinese Association started a procession with the dragon from the Marriott Center, following the Devotional to the Wilkinson Student Center.
Host of the Iranian booth, Mehrsa Baradaran, 23, a senior from New York majoring in English, said she felt a special need to host a booth this year because of recent negative images in the media about Iran.
“People just don”t understand Iran … they link it with terrorist groups,” Baradaran said. “I was hoping it (the booth) would inspire questions, just kind of make people aware of what they don”t know.”