Sharing the World Around Us: Portage Northern’s Multi-Cultural Fair

Liz Barnes, Staff Writer

“We hoped the Multi-Cultural Fair would help people be more open minded about other ethnicities,” said Yvette Mushimiyimana (12). Last year was the first year three girls came up with multiple goals during Peace Jam, and one was to eliminate racial inequality.
A year later, Mushimiyimana, along with Shoshana Grode (12), Abby Shirey (11), Jessica Andrews(12), Ariana Pastrana (12), Betsy Strehl (11), and Dianne Ro (12), are now the organizers for the Multi-Cultural Fair that will take place in Northern’s Lower Commons on Saturday, March 22nd from 3-5. This event spawned off of the club Peacejam, which takes a Noble Peace Prize winner and looks at their life and why they won. Last year, it was Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Noble Peace Prize Winner for fighting for women, children, and refugee’s rights. She is an Iranian lawyer, former judge, human rights activist, and founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran.
The girls are not too worried about bringing in new members to Peacejam and are looking to bring in new members by recruiting underclassmen friends via sports and other extra-curricular activities. Also, friends in the club help with gaining new members. “After the first day I was like, wow this is a cool environment so I just stuck around,” Pastrana said.
Multi-Cultural Fair brings in students from Portage and Kalamazoo schools, as well as parents and families. Clubs from Northern are not the only ones who have booths during the Fair. Groups from Western as well as individual people show up and bring their culture with them. Last year Indian Club as well as others from outside the club played the drums as a part of a performance. “There was an African group who came and told stories last year,” Pastrana added. Many students sing and dance, bringing different aspects of cultures from around the world to Northern.
This year there will be seven booths from Northern Clubs and other organizations from the community. The Multi-Cultural Fair is a great way to learn about other cultures from the Mid-West. On March 22nd, do forget to check out other cultures so we can slowly eliminate racial inequality as well as gain knowledge and respect.