News / USA

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Expected to Draw a Million Visitors

Master weaver Nkerisapa Lewano, a participant in the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, is a member of the Ngurunit Basket Weavers Group in northern Kenya, a program sponsored by the Peace Corps.
Master weaver Nkerisapa Lewano, a participant in the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, is a member of the Ngurunit Basket Weavers Group in northern Kenya, a program sponsored by the Peace Corps.

Colombian coffee growers mingle with Peace Corps volunteers and some of the nation’s finest rhythm and blues musicians at this year’s Smithonian Folklife Festival, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

This year’s event spotlights Colombia’s rich bio-cultural diversity, the 50th anniversary of  the Peace Corps and the powerful influence of rhythm and blues music in American popular culture.

Hundreds of participants come to the nation’s capital for the 10-day event, which generally draws about a million visitors, according to Smithsonian spokesperson Becky Haberacker.

“The festival is a way to showcase cultural traditions from around the world,” she says. "And it’s a way to allow people to share their culture and their experience.”

This is the 45th folklife festival to be held on the National Mall, a wide expanse of open space between the U.S. Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial which is lined with museums. White tents set up on the mall house an eclectic assortment of programs and exhibits, including craft and cooking demonstrations as well as concerts.

"My favorite part is seeing things from other countries and listening to music," says Jim Yuengert, who works nearby. "It's a great opportunity to showcase things going on worldwide and within the U.S. and to open people's minds."

The Peace Corps program includes dance demonstrations from Ukraine, Botswana and the Philippines along with food samples from Morocco, Peru and Ghana. One of the most popular events, which occurred early in the festival, was a rhythm and blues performance by the musical group Soul Train. In the Colombia section, visitors can witness a ceremonial Amazonian dance or sample sweet corn arepas.

"It's very nice to show the kids and everybody how people in Colombia live," says Henry Rodriquez. A native of Bogota who now lives in Virginia, he brought his 19-year-old daughter to the festival. "It's very important for the new generation to see their background, to see their roots."

This first-hand cultural exchange is at the heart of the folklife festival experience.

“Instead of visiting an exhibit someone else has done, this is done in the first person,” says Haberacker. “Visitors are hearing directly from the tradition bearers; the people who make the crafts, who cook the food or sing the songs.”

Although the event draws visitors from around the world, most who attend come from around the United States.

Phil Jones made the trip from North Carolina. Having lived abroad for over a decade, it's a way for him to reconnect with other cultures again.

"Until you speak someone's language, eat with them, pray with them, you understand nothing about the rest of the world and your own culture," says Jones. "Americans fear other cultures because they don't know anything about them. They are more alike than different and when you see them, you're less likely to be mistrustful or wary of other cultures."

This spirit of mutual cultural understanding is exactly what Smithsonian organizers hope people gain from the experience, especially since many who attend won't have a chance to visit the foreign countries they learn about at the festival.

“We hope people walk away with a better appreciation of cultures from around the world and at the same time share a bit of America or wherever they’re from with the participants,” says Haberacker. “So it’s a bit of a cultural exchange we hope people come away with.”

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid