CRESTVIEW — Organizers of the community's first International Festival invite area ethnic and cultural organizations to represent their countries and heritage at the Oct. 25 event.


CRESTVIEW — Organizers of the community's first International Festival invite area ethnic and cultural organizations to represent their countries and heritage at the Oct. 25 event.



The festival, sponsored by the Okaloosa School District, will feature cultural music, dancing, educational presentations, displays and food samples, organizer Blanca Galindo said.



"Our superintendent, Mary Beth Jackson, is very supportive of embracing other cultures," Galindo said. "We are inviting the community and people of every culture in the area."



Galindo, a native of Colombia, works in student intervention services and the school's English for Speakers of Other Languages program at Davidson Middle School.



She said the festival, which is open to adults and students, will also incorporate a Hispanic heritage celebration, "but it's going to be a melting pot, just like the United States."



Interactive and cultural displays will represent Japan, China, Russia, the Ukraine, the Philippines, France, Germany, countries from Central and South America, and Crestview's French Sister City, Noirmoutier-en-l'Île, Galindo said.



Embracing diversity, preserving traditions



The program — part of the school district's push to increase diversity education — allows students to meet people from other cultures and experience their traditions, which will help prepare them for interacting in a multicultural world, Galindo said.



"When they grow up and go into the working environment, they will meet people from other cultures," Galindo said. "This will help them get ready for that."



It will also let parents and adults share their cultures' traditions with their children and other students assimilating into the nation's melting pot.



"People come here as a first generation, but the second generation starts adopting the American culture and forgets about their roots," she said.



Galindo said the festival would also help attendees become more sensitive to traditions from other cultures while reinforcing America's embrace of people from all over the world.



"We want to invite people to understand other cultures and understand each other," she said. "I think it's going to be beautiful."



WANT TO PARTICIPATE?



Ethnic and cultural groups are invited to participate in the International Festival, which is 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Shoal River Middle School gymnasium. Admission is free.Contact Blanca Galindo, 683-7500 ext. 111 or blanca.galindo@mail.okaloosa.k12.fl.us for details.



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.