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Jake Huberman, left, visiting assistant professor of film and television from Israel, talks with La Verne student Rasha Dubuni, representing Palestine with her booth in Sneaky Park.

Jake Huberman, left, visiting assistant professor of film and television from Israel, talks with La Verne student Rasha Dubuni, representing Palestine with her booth in Sneaky Park.

Vive La Difference!

Annual International Festival in Sneaky Park fosters a better understanding of and a greater appreciation for diverse cultures and customs in a fun atmosphere.

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  • November 16, 2012

Hundreds, including students, faculty and staff, gathered on Thursday in Sneaky Park for the 22nd Annual International Festival. The event, which was colored with flags, display boards, finger foods and a variety of international music was an opportunity for the La Verne campus community to come together in celebration of its diversity.

Aseel Mogri, left, and Momoko Fujimoi share a moment during Thursday's International Festival at Sneaky Park.

Among the many countries represented were Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador and more. According to Lili Gradilla, Intercultural Programs Coordinator, the event was organized by different entities, which included the International Student Organization, International Student Services Department and ELS Language Center.

The festival menu was provided by Bon Appétit and showcased food from Turkey including Turkish meatballs served with a yogurt mint dipping sauce, Turkish green beans, rice pilaf, Turkish bread, fresh fruit and delicious sweet baklava.

Proudly representing Palestine by wearing a vivid red woven traditional dress with a black and white hijab (veil), senior Rasha Dubuni said there is a lot to learn about the culture, the land, people and resources in both Iraq and Palestine. She said that among the resources in Iraq there are palm trees, dates, metals, sulfur and potassium. She also explained Palestine is known for its olive oil and za’atar (herbs that include oregano, basil and thyme), which is good to eat with yogurt.

Wail Alshammavi, a doctoral student at La Verne, talks to a visitor to the Saudi Arabia booth Thursday in Sneaky Park.

Newest Director of International Student Services (ISC), Jeffrey Nonemaker proudly attended the event as his team was part of the organizing group. He has been Director of ISC for a month, making the transition from La Verne admissions. “This is my 30th year at the university, so I’ve just enjoyed seeing the festival grow over the years,” he said.

International Student Andressa Mafra, who arrived from Brazil last Sunday, represented her country at the festival. She came to La Verne to study English for six months. Proud of having Dilma Rousseff as Brazil’s first female President, Mafra said she thought that the most beautiful city in Brazil was Rio de Janeiro, for its beaches and mountains full of nature. She also added that in January and February, Brazil hosts a carnival to celebrate life.

The traditional Saudi sandal, worn by Aseel Mogri with his white thobe, at Thursday's International Festival.

Senior and Speech Communications major, Daniel Sillas, was giving away travel books. He has been to four countries in Europe, which include England, Spain, France and Italy. “I enjoyed the exposure to other cultures,” Sillas said, adding that his favorite place was Barcelona, Spain, for its diverse population, beautiful beaches and laid-back atmosphere.

“This event was truly a representation of how much La Verne values diversity and inclusivity,” Gradilla said. “We were very excited at this year’s turnout.”

— Story by Oscar De Leon

— Images by Rusty Evans

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