World traditions celebrated at local college
WORTHINGTON -- There will be food -- samples of traditional delicacies from around the world.
There will be music -- harp, accordion and choral.
There will also be dancing, craft activities, cultural ceremonies and horse-drawn wagon rides.
All those things will be found in one place on Friday -- Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus.
The event, the Culture Corner Holiday Open House, will give attendees the chance to experience holiday traditions from around the world and is also a fundraiser for the Minnesota West Foundation. All monies collected from a set donation will go toward scholarships for ethnically diverse students at the Worthington campus. Children age 14 and younger are admitted free.
"I think this is probably our fifth one, and it's grown in popularity every year," said Le Lucht, one of the organizers of this holiday happening. "At the first one, I don't think people knew what to expect. The idea is to get the community involved in learning more about everyone who lives here."
When people arrive, they will be given a plate and then can visit the different booths that will be set up, sampling along the way.
"Holiday traditions will be demonstrated through table decorations, pictures, samples of traditional foods and drinks, all kinds of different things," described Lucht. "There will also be musical selections, with Kathy Fransen playing the harp, Galen Benton on the accordion, and Eric Parrish has his Minnesota West Choir -- which is very ethnically diverse -- learning carols and music from around the world, even singing in other languages. They'll be going from table to table, section to section of the college singing, so it will be like a choir concert throughout the evening."
Cultural presenters will include students, staff and people from the larger community. One of the newest Minnesota West faculty members, art instructor Leah Bukovchan Gossom, will talk about and share traditions from Prague, Czechoslovakia.
"My husband and I lived and were teaching in Prague for four years," Gossom explained about their time at the private Prague British School. "We actually got married there in 1997, and we've been there off and on, had the opportunity to keep going back there ... Combining all the years, we've probably spent about nine years there."
Gossom's exhibit will include the traditional Czech egg decorations, called Psanky, with the opportunity to create a replica using a plastic egg.
"With the kids, I'm going to have premade ginger baroque cookies, which you find in a lot of the markets there," she continued. "They are the equivalent of our sugar cookies, and they always have them in the shape of their beautiful architecture. I'm going to do a simple cutout of a baroque-style building, and then the kids or whoever can pipe in the window frames and whatever else they want to decorate the cookies."
Additionally, Gossom's students have been busy making cultural narrative houses that will be displayed for the open house.
"Basically, they're telling the story of each student, have their own cultural significance," she explained. "Someone of Asian ancestry will have incorporated some interesting Asian design into them. One did an adobe Mexican-style house, and there's a European castle-like structure. They're meant to ignite each person's personal story."
Lucht anticipates that the event will be reflective of Worthington's cultural makeup, with many countries and cultures represented, including Germany, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Laos, Mexico, Guatemala, Ethiopia, England, Eritrea, Oromo, the U.S., Korea, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Karen and First Nations.
"We have three Egyptian students, and one of them went to culinary school and is a chef, and he asked if it would be possible to make some food for it, which of course we encouraged," related Lucht.
The horse-drawn wagon rides will be offered by Glen Burnham, with support from the local UFCW union, Lucht noted.
"We're just hoping that a lot of people come, participate in the activities and celebrate our cultures," she said.
The open house will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday. Advance tickets are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the Nobles County Integration Collaborative. For more information, contact Lucht, 372-3423, or Jaidy Kolander, 376-3300.
Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.