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March 31, 2011 7:13 am

EDITORIAL: Making the world seem smaller and friendlier

Written by Ilene Olson

The world came to Powell on Saturday. For one afternoon, it wasn’t necessary to use any form of travel other than the family car, or perhaps a bicycle, to get a taste — literally and figuratively — of cultures from around the globe.

The smells of foods native to many countries representing nearly every continent greeted hundreds of attendees at the annual Multicultural Showcase at Northwest College. Culinary treats from Brazil, India, China, Vietnam, Austria, South Korea, Japan, France, the Bahamas, Saudi Arabia, Libya and others dazzled their senses of smell and taste.

The other senses were tantalized as well. The ears delighted to sounds of singing and musical instruments from around the world; the eyes feasted upon dances, colorful costumes, displays and demonstrations. The sense of touch was engaged in folding paper origami cranes, and sometimes by feeling items in a display of containers from around the world and others included in a silent auction.

But there was a serious side to the event, too. The silent auction raised nearly $1,400 for a scholarship to Northwest College for Luciana Parra Vera, daughter of former NWC student Carolina Parra Vera, who died last year in a bus crash in Chile. Another $500 was raised to help with victim relief efforts in Japan in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami there. Outside, prayers and good wishes for the people of Japan were sent aloft with bubbles blown in their honor. Hearts — and wallets — were opened for causes far beyond our borders.

It should be noted that the friendship and cooperation between students from different nations that is so obvious during the showcase isn’t unusual. As a rule, students from different countries — even those from nations with tense international relationships — work and play together and interact through the NWC International Club. That was illustrated Saturday when a dozen or so young women from around the globe gathered spontaneously for a group photo, all huddled together and with big smiles on their faces.

This year’s Multicultural Showcase is in the history books now, bigger and better than its predecessors. But it leaves behind a renewal of the knowledge that we’re all in this world together, and when we share the best of ourselves and our cultures, we all benefit from the camaraderie and the friendships that result. Borders are blurred; common interests and genuine compassion become more important than differences.

We just wish the rest of the world could have a taste of that experience. It would go a long way toward solving the problems humanity faces around the globe.

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