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Middfest Makes New International Friends (USA)
an article by Donna McDade

Each year since 1981 Middfest International has celebrated a new country by bringing ambassadors, artists and others from that country to our community. The religions of the guest country, the arts and crafts , the history, and the foods of the the country are explored. As of this year 35 different countries have been featured.

click on photo to enlarge

100,000 local people are taught each year by our visitors and exhibits. These include school and university students, the volunteers, and the audience who attends the event. Host families of the invited guests learn much from their new friends.

Hundreds of hours are invested by the volunteers as they research all aspects of the new country. Local groups are contacted who are from the selected country and are asked to participate in the 3 day weekend.

For 3 days there are continuous lectures, films,and with continuous dances and singers on 2 outdoor stages. Exhibits pertaining to the country are shown. Games from the country are taught in a Super Saturday event for children.

The economics of the country is discussed in business meetings with the foreign and local businesses. School children study the arts of the country and attempt to duplicate them. The foreign dancers and singers visit the schools and demonstrate their specialties. Everyone in the community contributes in the excitement.

Because of Middfest we have learned how much our country is similar to the guest country. We have made thousands of new international friends which has contributed to world peace.


Question(s) related to this article:

Direct people-to-people contact and solidarity, How can it be promoted?

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Latest reader comment:

The examples from the countries of Central Asia are interesting.  On the one hand, their history under the Soviet Union was not a pleasant one, because solidarity was imposed, sometimes even by force.  On the other hand, the Soviet experience brought together many different nationalities and peoples and made possible many forms of voluntary, non-violent cooperation and solidarity.

An important question for the 21st Century is how this kind of international contact and solidarity can be promoted without involving states and their culture of war.  As it says in the Constitution of UNESCO: "A peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind."

This report was posted on October 10, 2013.