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The Multicultural Storyfest

Each year, Juniata holds a Liberal Arts Symposium—a day when all classes are cancelled and students have the opportunity to present their research to the campus community. Oftentimes, international students are not able to contribute to the symposium because many of them study at Juniata for only one semester. For this reason, Grace Fala, special assistant to the President for diversity and inclusion and professor of communication, developed the “Multicultural Storyfest.” This event takes place during the Liberal Arts Symposium and invites international students as well as other interested students to share parts of their heritage with the community.

This year, I am receiving two credits to serve as the intern for the Multicultural Storyfest. I have been working very closely with Grace and a few other students to help coordinate the largest one yet. We will have a total of 19 performances representing the following cultures and co-cultures: African, American Indian, Amish, Burmese, Buddhism, Chinese, Indian, Irish, Italian, Filipino, German, Japanese, Korean, LGBTQ, Maori, Middle Eastern, Pakistani, Salvadoran, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Thida Win ’17 from Myanmar talks at the 2015 Multicultural Storyfest.

Personally, I will serve as the emcee for the event and also be a part of the performance representing Maori culture in New Zealand. One of my best friends studied abroad in New Zealand, so we are going to incorporate what she learned into our performance. We will be teaching about common greeting words and customs used by the Maori people. Other students will be dancing, singing, playing instruments, modeling, and reading poems.

Andrea Morillo ’15 from Honduras performs at the 2014 Multicultural Storyfest.

All in all, I have gained so much valuable experience and many budding friendships from organizing this event. I have been able to meet and talk to people from all over the world!

If you’re interested in attending the Multicultural Storyfest, it’ll take place on Detwiler Plaza on Thursday, April 21st from 1:30-3:00 pm. I hope to see you there!

Liberal Arts Symposium

As a first year at Juniata College, today I experienced my first Liberal Arts Symposium. Liberal Arts Symposium is a day where classes are canceled and the Juniata community is encouraged to go to see presentations about the research done by students. In addition to oral presentations, there were posters in the library and student art in the von Liebig Center for Science. Liberal Arts Symposium is also called “Mountain Day of the Mind,” and while looking at posters and listening to presentations does not sound like the ideal day of canceled classes, I found Mountain Day of the Mind just as exciting as Mountain Day (I also did not have to wake up at 4 in the morning).

CJ LAS1webI started the day by attending presentations on history and English research, which I found really interesting. After those, I went with some friends to see the art in VLB. The drawings, paintings, ceramics, and everything else were great. One of my friends went with me and she gave me some insight into the symbolism of different colors and styles in some of the pieces, which I really appreciated. We then went to the library to see some of the posters. The posters covered disciplines such as computer science, communications, environmental science, biology, and chemistry. Later in the day, I observed a panel of four students who created videos for an upper level writing class. The videos concerned accurate and ethical portrayals of themselves or others, which led to some moving stories of real people. Finally, I attended the Multicultural Storyfest, which consisted of international students sharing parts of their cultures. Two Russian poems and a dance from Thailand are some examples of the presentations from Multicultural Storyfest.

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Students at Juniata work hard. With classes, papers, exams, homework, and other activities, the average student has a decent amount of work at any time. I think that Liberal Arts Symposium is a great way for other students and professors to take a break for a day and recognize and appreciate the impressive research that is being conducted or artwork that is being made throughout the year.