Multicultural Festival celebrates diversity in Laguna Beach community

Mercer Janssen, PR Manager

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This Saturday, March 23, the second annual LB Multicultural Festival will be held in the quad from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The student-led event accompanies the Laguna Beach Invitational Model United Nations (LBIMUN) Conference, which will be held the same day. This will be open to the community as well as the delegates.

“The purpose of the festival is to bring exposure to the diversity of our community. In such a partisan world, it is important to celebrate and respect different cultures,” said junior Laila Cruz, one of the chief organizers of the event.

The festival was the brainchild of the Model United Nations program last year. A wide range of cultural experiences from entertainment options to native dishes will be offered at the festival.

Furthermore, in light of recent events surrounding our community, the Multicultural Festival could be seen as an opportunity to grow in tolerance. Engaging with different people through activities such as games, food or entertainment pushes participants to explore and appreciate diverse cultures.

“The recent rise of divisive and xenophobic far-right movements all around the world has created an ‘us vs. them’ mentality in the minds of a lot of people.  When something seems strange to us, the natural human reaction is usually fear and apprehension, which could quickly spiral downward into prejudice and hate. By showing the beauty of different peoples of the world, we are hoping to decrease the ‘strangeness’ of those cultures, so that eventually, we no longer think of other peoples as ‘them’ and there’s only one inclusive and kinder ‘us,’ said MUN teacher Jun Shen.

In the MUN program, it’s common for delegates to feel out of touch with the countries they are representing. They understand their political and social points of view, their foreign policies and how their government works. However, most delegates have not traveled around the world and visited countries such as Vietnam, Korea or Nicaragua. Most delegates have not encountered the authentic cuisine or the native people of these countries.  

“A major issue in both our national and international political view is a detachment from both the countries we represent and the issues we face. Of course, solving the inflation in Venezuela through the gradual reintegration of the bolívar and the establishment of a national bank outside of Nicolás Maduro’s regime makes sense theoretically, but realistically it’s difficult for delegates to identify with issues like these. Outside of statistics, MUN delegates are often not given opportunities to experience exactly how these policies interact with the culture, societies and individuals of each region,” said Secretary General Grace Sauers.

The festival facilitates community interaction as well. Last year, Madame Odile Dewar, along with her French students, hosted a booth that allowed visitors to immerse themselves in French culture. While teaching at LBHS, Odile insisted that students learn about the French language in various cultural and national contexts. She views the newly established Multicultural Festival as an opportunity to continue learning beyond the classroom.

“This year, I decided to join the Multicultural Fest as a representative of France. In the past, Madame Odile has represented France, and unfortunately she wasn’t able to this year,” said sophomore Sophia Ravenna. “Although I was only able to have her as a teacher last year, I learned so much from her and am so grateful to have had her. Hopefully, the representatives of France are able to convey France well and have at least a quarter of what Odile brought to everything she did.”

Speak to the Model United Nations teachers Mr. Shen and Mr. Todd to learn more about what awaits you this Saturday at the LB Multicultural Festival!

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