As summer comes to an end and students are just getting to know their new classmates for the new school year, there are many opportunities for students and teachers to explore the diverse cultures represented by the changing demographics of the North Carolina population. Below are just a few of the opportunities available to make personal connections with local families and strengthen relationships with the community. Jason Irizarry, an associate professor and director of urban education at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) mentions that for teachers wanting to be culturally responsive, “it’s really important to be really immersed in that local context to be culturally responsive. And I think that that’s messy work, and it’s really hard to quantify, but nevertheless vital.”* Here are a number of cultural festivities that you can participate in during the fall.
African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County
Dates: September 2-3,2017
Location: 205 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh
Over the past seven years the festival has showcased African American culture through art, music, food and community. Last year more than 38,000 people attended the event featuring more than fifty juried artists and vendors as well as local and national music acts on the main stage of the city plaza in downtown Raleigh.
36th Annual Raleigh Greek Festival
Dates: September 8-10, 2017
Location: Jim Graham Building, NC State Fairgrounds, Raleigh
The festival will have dance and cooking demonstrations with numerous food and arts and crafts vendors lined up. The festival is sponsored by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and a portion of the proceeds go to support Habitat for Humanity.
International Food and Music Festival
Dates: September 16, 2017
Location: W. Third St. & W. Cypress St., Wendell, NC
The festival started in 2003 and has grown throughout the years with the help of volunteers. The festival will feature community and children’s activities and the food of many countries including the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Philippines, Germany, Mexico and Ireland.
Festival of India
Dates: September 17-18, 2017
Location: Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte
The festival draws 10,000 to 20,000 visitors from Charlotte and the surrounding areas. The festival will present Indian traditional dance including the classical dance styles of Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Odissi. Participants can also learn about the components of a traditional Indian wedding or have their hands decorated by Henna tattoos. There will also be short film screenings and a Kids Art Booth.
4th Annual Dragon Boat Festival
Dates: September 23, 2017
Location: Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Cary
The festival will have dragon boat races, a tradition that started 2,300 years ago in Mainland China during the Zhou Dynasty. This will also be a celebration of Asian culture that includes more than 40 live performances, 60 food vendors, and cultural presentations.
La Fiesta del Pueblo
Dates: September 24, 2017
Location: Fayetteville Street, Raleigh
This is a daylong celebration of Latinx food, music and culture. The local nonprofit, El Pueblo, has hosted the event for 20 years with as many as 20,000 visitors enjoying the food, musicians and artists that participate during the festival. This year the main stage will have a combination of music and folkloric dance groups from Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Panama. The headliner will be Toby Love, an American singer and songwriter from New York who is known for performing a style of bachata music that combines traditional and urban singing and production.
UNC Charlotte International Festival
Date: October 14, 2017
Location: UNC Charlotte Main Campus
This is the 42nd anniversary of the festival that celebrates approximately 50 nations. Booths will be staffed by UNC Charlotte international students and members of the international community. The event includes an international game zone where persons of all ages can learn about the traditions of other cultures.
The 32nd International Festival of Raleigh
Date: October 20-22, 2017
School Field Trip Program: Friday October 20, 2017
Location: Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh
This festival is a three-day event that allows artists from different ethnic backgrounds to present international art in downtown Raleigh. Approximately 25,000 participants will visit the festival to enjoy folkloric dance performances, arts and crafts, puppet shows and storytelling. There will be more than 40 booths decorated by the ethnic group represented and people will be there to engage participants in the culture and arts and crafts of the ethnic group or country. You will also have the opportunity to try many cuisines from around the world cooked by the local ethnic community. Schools from around the state come the festival on an International Field Trip with reduced admission.
*Quinton, Sophie. (2013, November) Good Teachers Embrace Their Students’ Cultural Backgrounds. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/11/good-teachers-embrace-their-students-cultural-backgrounds/281337/