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International Festival features food, dancing

Dillon Gymnasium held the world yesterday.

The University's 24th annual International Festival featured a flag ceremony and an address by President Shapiro as well as an array of ethnic merchandise from student groups and local shops.

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"Our goal was to make Dillon Gym a place where anybody can express themselves by selling food, sharing information or performing," said Eleni Constantinou '00, the co-chair of the event and president of the International Students Association of Princeton.

"The aim is to have a Sunday where people can hear the music from outside and just come in and enjoy it," she said.

Performing groups and artists graced the stage at the back of the gym, sharing part of their cultures with the audience.

Cultural mix

"We were really happy with the performances – we had a really good mix," said Eckhart Richter '98, International Festival co-chair and president of the International Consortium. "We were especially happy to have the Black Arts Company, I-Hop and the Society of Asian Dancers join the performances," he added.

I-Hop is a dance troupe organized by Darayan Didier-Blanchard '00, who is the first native St. Lucian to be admitted to Princeton. "This is a perfect opportunity to show some of what the international community can offer," he said.

Didier-Blanchard said the University's diversity drew his interest after a year studying in London. "I chose Princeton because it was such a diverse campus," he said, adding as he pointed to the tables at the festival, "The community's small and there's a lot of interaction."

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Constantinou said she agrees that the festival is a way of highlighting the various ethnic backgrounds within the University. "If nothing else, you get the people working on the festival closer together. Diversity is all around you – you don't need this to see it or experience it," she said.

"You see the freshmen and seniors working together in the same booths to organize it. You get all kinds of coalitions. I've never had to deal with so many different types of people," Constantinou said.

The event also included informational booths containing pamphlets and other materials as well as ethnic foods and crafts.

'Project pencil'

Professor Win Win Kyi of Bergen Community College showed silks, Buddhist books, precious stones and teak woodcrafts from her native Myanmar. In addition, she asked for donations to her "Project Pencil" charity, with which she said she hopes to "bless every needy child in my country with a pencil."

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She said American pencils are superior to those made abroad and that Americans should not take such daily amenities as writing materials for granted.

Visitors to the festival included local residents, who paid $2 for admission, and students, who got in free. "We have a lot of people," said International Center director Paula Chow of the turnout, adding, "The flag procession was really beautiful."

Richter said the total cost of the festival is $11,000 and is funded by academic departments, the Provost's office, the Dean of Student Life and the Projects Board.