UAPB Cultural Fest celebrates diversity

Bobbie Handcock | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

Joyce Bracy Vaughan, left, director for Student Counseling, Assessment and Development at UAPB, visits the Nigeria exhibit by UAPB student Terrence Haynes during the Cultural Fest hosted by Dr. Janette Wheat’s Families Across Cultures Class.

 PINE BLUFF, Ark. – The Cultural Fest recently held at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff featured food from various cultures, fashions, live music, dance and more. Hosted by Dr. Janette Wheat’s Families Across Cultures Class, the event featured the theme “Global Flavors: A Multicultural Circle of Unity.”

“The purpose of the cultural festival is to promote unity, demonstrate an appreciation and tolerance for a diversity of cultures, and showcase an array of international foods/cuisine, fashions, arts, music, mores, traditions, and customs of multi-ethnic families’ way of life within a global society,” said Dr. Wheat , assistant professor.

The class has been hosting the annual cultural festival in the UAPB Department of Human Sciences since April 2006. Each year, UAPB students, faculty, staff and members of the community help make the gathering a success, Dr. Wheat said.

“(UAPB students) Kyunta McCoy (Mr. Human Development and Family Studies) and English Peterson (Miss Human Development and Family Studies) served as the mister and mistress of ceremonies for this festive event,” she said.

Dr. Shandra Williams, chair of the Department of Human Sciences, welcomed guests to the fest which featured live jazz and musical entertainment from Legoria Payton and Edwin Lawson.

Children from the UAPB Child Development Center wore a variety of cultural costumes as they opened the event with a parade of flags from different countries. The children also sang and played hand instruments.

One of the highlights of the evening was the international fashion show. Male and female models from Twisted Creations strutted and sashayed in a variety of cultural fashions and showcased diverse hair styles. Margaret Boyd-Owens served as fashion show coordinator and commentator. The owner of D ‘Virtuous Divas Boutique kept the audience entertained with commentary on the colorful outfits and details about how and when they are worn.

Latoya Geter and Marnay Kemp of Mt. Pleasant A.M.E. Church performed a praise dance and. Sheba Whitiker-Hawkins sang a solo, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Tangila Smith recited a poem and performed a song. UAPB Agriculture Department student Taurean Morrow shared a presentation about a mission trip that he and other students took to Haiti.

After Dr. Wheat presented certificates of appreciation to festival participants, audience members toured cultural exhibits, fellowshipped and tasted an array of multi-ethnic fare. Selections included food and refreshments from France, Italy, Nigeria, Guyana and Hawaii.

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