Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parade of Nations Sept. 20: "Weaving Cultural Harmony"

Heading from Hancock toward the Portage Lift Bridge, Chinese students dance with their dragon during the 2007 Parade of Nations. Click on photos for larger versions.

Press release from Michigan Tech University. Photos of 2007 Parade of Nations © 2007 Keweenaw Now.

HOUGHTON -- Students and community members representing more than 70 countries will participate in the 19th Annual Parade of Nations -- a festival of music, food and ethnic pride -- on Saturday, Sept. 20.

"Weaving Cultural Harmony" is the theme of the 2008 event. Lineup will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Hancock Middle School. The parade will begin at 11 a.m. and run to the Dee Stadium in Houghton, where the multicultural festival will begin at noon.

The 2007 Parade heads for the bridge. Pictured here are participants and flags representing Ecuador, Guatemala and Finland.

"It's a celebration of differences that brings the community together," said MTU Native American Outreach Coordinator Lori Muhlig, who is co-organizing the event.

Cultural differences are blended in celebration during the traditional parade, where country representatives line up in more-or-less alphabetical order. Pictured here during the 2007 event are flags and marchers from Iran, Ethiopia, Israel and Italy.

This year's program includes the traditional parade, ethnic fare and clothing, plus a Native-American performing group, Fast Horses. This Minnesota-based Lakota family has performed music and dance worldwide since 1998. The group also will present in area schools on Friday, Sept. 19, and after the parade at Dee Stadium.

The famous marching band from Cass Tech High School in Detroit performs on the Portage Lift Bridge during the 2007 Parade of Nations. This year Fast Horses, a Minnesota-based Lakota family, will perform Native American music and dance.

Near Dee Stadium on Houghton's waterfront there will be a diverse offering of handcrafts and tasty treats from all over the globe. This year, an activity tent along with free pony rides will be available for children.

One of the pleasures of watching the Parade is the colorful display of traditional dress, like the lovely outfits worn here by participants from Nepal during the 2007 Parade.

The parade will feature community members and students from Michigan Tech and Finlandia universities -- all gathering to represent diverse heritages. The parade will include floats competing for prizes, local high school and middle school marching bands and the Michigan Tech Pep Band.

Japanese students from Finlandia University pause on the bridge for a photo by their teacher during the 2007 Parade.

"Parade of Nations emphasizes cultural uniqueness," said Muhlig. "At the same time, it teaches us what we, as human beings, have in common."

Michigan Tech Nigerian students walk and ride. Their traditional garb represents different regions of Nigeria.

Muhlig said on average, about 5,000 people attend the parade and festival annually.

During the Sept. 17 Hancock City Council meeting, Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Laitila encouraged Council members and the public to attend this year's parade since the opportunity to march from Hancock to Houghton will not be part of the 2009 parade. Anticipated construction in Houghton next year will restrict the 2009 celebration to the MTU campus, they explained.

More photos of the 2007 Parade:

MTU faculty and students from Pakistan represent their country in the 2007 Parade of Nations.

Members of the Indian Students Association perform in traditional dress during the celebration in Dee Stadium following the 2007 Parade.

African students perform a high-energy dance during the 2007 Dee Stadium performances.

Watch for these guys from Argentina this Saturday. They may be leading the parade again ... maybe after Albania and Angola! Hey, isn't that guy in the middle supposed to be taking photos for Keweenaw Now??

For more information about the parade, contact Lori Muhlig at 487-3692 or Madeline Mercado Voelker, Hispanic/Latino outreach coordinator, at 487-2920.

For information about Fast Horses, visit their Web site.

For MTU photos of the 2007 parade visit http://www.doe.mtu.edu/international/international_festival.html.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Updated: MTU students raise funds for Haitian hurricane victims: How you can help!

HOUGHTON -- Haiti, a small and impoverished country of the Caribbean, the poorest of the western hemisphere, has been recently hit by several hurricanes, which have added a huge burden to the daily struggle of the Haitian people.

Homes have been destroyed, crops devastated and animals carried away by the flood waters. Access to the flooded areas remains difficult, and a complete account of the losses and destruction is yet to be made. As of last week, official accounts referred to a total number of 255 dead, 39 missing and 135 injured; 51,359 families are affected; and 7,358 houses have been destroyed. Still, many fear that the final account could be much higher as the dead bodies are uncovered from the receding waters.*

In Gonaives, one of the hardest hit cities, people had to climb up on their rooftops to escape the floodwaters. Many parts of the city are still covered with water and mud. There is no drinking water, electricity or food supply. Three days after the last storm, people were still walking through muddy water with dirty faces and clothes. This is a humanitarian disaster that Haiti will not be able to face alone. We need international assistance from our friends and partners.

At Michigan Tech University, students are doing their part to help. The NOSOTROS student group and the Haitian students at MTU have been raising funds for the flood victims in Haiti. They will be accepting donations from noon to 2 p.m. through Wednesday, Sept. 17, in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) on campus. The money collected will be sent to the Red Cross in Haiti. Online donations can also be made using the Wells Fargo account named: NOSOTROS Haitian Flood Victims Fund. The account number is: 726 728 7881. Please email the managers of this account, Jessie Vital, jvital@mtu.edu, or Ezequiel Medici, efmedici@mtu.edu, for details on how to deposit a donation through Wells Fargo.

If you can, please stop by the MUB table to gather more information, get a more complete picture of the devastation and see how you can volunteer or get involved.**

* See the Sept. 8 article "In rain-soaked Haiti, no identifying the dead" on msnbc.com.
** Click here for photos of the situation in Haiti.

Many other charity organizations are accepting donations, including the following:

Hope for Haiti:
http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=9170
Haitian Health Foundation:
http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=10956
Hands Together:
http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=5098

All three of these organizations get four of four stars from Charity Navigator, and Independent Charity Evaluator.

Editor's Note: This article courtesy Jessie Vital and Fredline Ilorme of Haiti, MTU graduate students in forestry, and Ezequiel Medici, MTU graduate student from Argentina, public relations officer and former president of NOSOTROS. For more information, please contact: javital@mtu.edu, filorme@mtu.edu or efmedici@mtu.edu.