published Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Festival brings international flavor to Cleveland State

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    Drummers in the Walker Valley High School Band lead the parade of flags Saturday across the Cleveland State Community College to begin the fifth annual Multicultural Fair. Each of the 42 flags represents the national culture of one or more CSCC students.
    Photo by Randall Higgins.
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Saturday was a day for people who live in Bradley County to celebrate their differences.

Cleveland State Community College capped off its Multicultural Week with a fair that began with a parade of flags and spotlighted foods and information about the new residents' home countries.

"We started the idea from the cultural diversity class I taught,'' said project director Jana Pankey.

"It started as an internal event, just students and faculty,'' she said. "A couple of years ago we got a grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents, and that enabled us to open it up for the entire community.''

The grant totaled more than $66,000. It funds educational programs and displays as part of a three-year program.

On Saturday, people lined up to carry 42 flags representing the original cultures of one or more students now at Cleveland State, said Ruth Kirkendall, the college's administrative coordinator.

"It has grown every year, and today we have about 400 participants,'' she said.

The fifth annual Multicultural Week this year boasted a worldwide celebrity.

On Tuesday, Cleveland State hosted Paul Rusesabagina, whose story was the basis for the movie "Hotel Rwanda.''

American actor Don Cheadle played Rusesabagina, a motel manager who sheltered more than 1,000 people during a 100-day intertribal rampage that left as many as 1 million people dead. The film, nominated for three Academy Awards, was shown on campus before Rusesabagina spoke.

Another multicultural opportunity is coming to Cleveland on May 19.

Maifest, which will focus on the relationship between Tennesseans and Germans, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Street Square downtown.

About 500 people attended the first Maifest last year, said Christian Hoeferle, president of Ocoee Region Multicultural Services. This year, with more people associated with Wacker Chemical and Volkswagen moving here, the turnout is expected to be larger, he said.

Find out more about Maifest on Facebook.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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