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NORMAL -- Intrigued by Indonesian art, Washington Community High School freshman Madison Keller made a point of convincing several of her friends to attend a special workshop Friday night at Normal Community West High School.

"I decided it would be really fun because I like the art," Keller said. "I don't know much about Indonesia and I really wanted to know more about it."

The workshop was conducted by Basori, who, through a Fulbright program, is assisting in teaching language classes at Northern Illinois University's Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Dekalb for one year.

Basori, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, gave students a taste of the Indonesian language and culture through showing artifacts and slides of his country and introducing them to some simple phases, such as greetings. When time permitted, he also performed some Indonesian dances.

Keller was among hundreds of middle and high school students from across the state who learned from Basori and other exhibits at GlobalFest 2014.

The two-day event kicked off Friday night at the high school with an international dance for students and teams competing in the Global Connection Quiz Bowl.

Before the evening's two main events, students popped into classrooms to immerse themselves in foods, crafts, music and languages of other countries.

This year's theme for the event that celebrates world languages and culture is: "You are the Key to the World."

Indonesian culture is just one of many represented. Turkish, Amharic (which primarily is used in Ethiopia), Russian, Farsi (a Persian language primarily spoken in Iran and neighboring Afghanistan), Thai, Portuguese, Quechua (a language spoken by people of the central Andes of South America), Chinese and Polish language workshops are being presented during the festival.

About 500 students from around the state were expected to attended, which is down from the typical attendance of between 700 to 1,000 students, said David Hirst, a Spanish teacher and chairman of Normal West's foreign language department.

Hirst said he believes the lower turnout is because of this weekend's forecast for inclement weather and a change in the date of the event. Typically it is held in the middle of March, but because of a scheduling conflict the event was moved to this weekend.

The celebration was started in 1985 at University High School and held at several other locations before it was moved four years ago to Normal West.

The celebration resumes Saturday with a parade of flags and opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Workshops will resume at 11 a.m. There will be a closing ceremony at 3 p.m.

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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