JEJU WEEKLY

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Cultural differences celebratedImmigrants share home heritage
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승인 2010.06.12  20:15:44
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▲ Immigrant residents of Jeju Island, including Pakistani Rahman Kahlid, his wife, Sadia, and son, Ahmad, above, left, took part in a multicultural festival at the end of May. Photos by Yang Ho Geun & Cher Anne Tabuzo, inset.

The Jeju Foreign Peace Community Center hosted the fifth annual Jeju Multiracial Cultural Festival with the theme of “Citizens on Earth Unity Day” from May 29 through May 30 at Chilsung-Ro arcade in Jeju City. Native residents and immigrants from 14 countries, including Japan, China, Vietnam, Russia, Mongolia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and the U.S.A. showcased their homelands’ goods and delicacies to encourage harmonious relationships between immigrants and the Jeju people. By promoting different cultures, the event also raised funds to be donated to underprivileged children in third world countries.

Jeju Multicultural Family Support Center chairman, Kim Jeong Woo, said the festival’s aim was to increase a better understanding and camaraderie among the immigrant community and the Jeju people and to eradicate racism, prejudice and discrimination. The participating countries increased from 12 to 14 countries this year and more are expected in coming years. Guests from Canada, India and Bangladesh were present and Kim hoped they would also get involved in the event next year.

The event allowed immigrant workers, international families and locals on the island to experience the traditional games, music, costume plays, dance dramas and street performances of Korea and other countries. Free international calls from KT were the most popular offering with those from overseas and anyone could call wherever they wished between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. while the booth was open.

Fine weather allowed children and young adults to enjoy face painting, balloon sculpting and bubble blowing and a water balloon game. Families and friends waited patiently for free photos in glass frames. Traditional apparel, home decor and native food were served on tables along with posters and banners that explained each product and its use. Many visitors seemed amazed as they tasted other countries' food specialties.

The South Pacific group Island Breeze Team and performers from Nanta entertained the audience with local musicians appearing in the evening. On the final night, Mongolian performers led the show, followed by belly dancers, who attracted a mainly male audience. An aspiring Canadian band also performed country music.

“This festival provides significant knowledge and appreciation for the next elected government officials to sustain a desirable improvement with regards to issues on cultural differences,” Kim said. “A total of 7,434 immigrant students, workers and families are currently living on the island, I hope that this event helped to boost Jeju City in the international community to encourage people to live harmoniously with immigrants and vice versa. The festival was a success as a whole.”




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