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Letter: Many thanks for a great International Festival

By Jim Krapf, Worthington

Thank you to everyone who came to the party.  The International Festival was a celebration of one another in our diverse community.

Besides Friday and Saturday’s entertainment, food vendors and artisans, there were two extensions of the festival.  

Thursday at the Fire Hall, we heard the stories of past and recent immigrants. A panel of Federal Reserve Bank Director Neel Kashkari, JBS Human Resource Director Len Bakken and Mayor Mike Kuhle lead a discussion of the economic factors affecting immigrants and our community.

Sunday at Phileo’s, we gathered to cheer on France or Croatia in the final game of the World Cup soccer championship. The event raised money to help local immigrant families with legal fees.

During the traditional diverse entertainment, the engaging of the audience was a joy for me. I saw an older white man come to the stage and dance respectfully with a young brown woman from the Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca. I saw an older Asian woman with a broad toothless smile energetically mincing the dance moves of the Bollywood performers from India.

But my greatest delight was watching the youngest spectators dance spontaneously on the lawn — little girls twirling gracefully in the grass and even the young boy who jumped from the stage into a mud puddle landing on his bottom. These were moments with no inhibitions, no fears or no worries; just pure peaceful pleasure.

It was a time of relief from the angry shouts of “go back to where you came from,” and from the rhetoric that accelerates hatred by labeling a whole group of people as criminals and animals, and from the horrors of children taken from their parents and put in cages, and from the lie that only whites can contribute to civilization.

The festival is not just for escaping; it is for energizing. We have a responsibility to make this a better world and community for all our children. Their dancing inspires our marching forward to that goal; and our continued marching enables their dancing.

My sincere gratitude to the instigators who began that movement 25 years ago with Worthington’s first International Festival. My heartfelt appreciation to Elaine Martin-Watson, one of this year’s Friend of the Festival honorees, who said:  “I would love Worthington to be an example to the whole world … to love one another like you want to be loved.”

This anniversary, however you say it — Fiesta, Jashna, Fete, Sherekeha, Kamnada, Pachanga, Gesellstaft, Festejo, Hygge, Feest, Aflla, Nyakorot, Rugumi, Valhalla, Gujarati, Ajwoma, Dhoom, Jalsa, Ceiliuradh, Kiehichopi, Tu Delftnidelta, Feier or Party — was a celebration of us.