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The unexpected major snowfall on the first day of Spring did not dampen the spirit and energy of the seventh annual Asian Festival at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Indiana. This year, the Festival was another colorful showcase of multi-cultural exuberance and fun for the students, faculty, parents, and friends of Brebeuf. The Festival, sponsored by The Asian Club and moderated by English faculty member Mrs. Janice Singh, is a major anticipated cultural event by students and others. The leadership at Brebeuf is supportive of this event and is deeply committed to promoting and delivering diversity. The Festival takes place during school hours so that the maximum number of students can experience and enjoy it.

As in past years, the Festival strives to create a learning laboratory with much to enthrall the senses and tastes. There are cultural booths representing many Asian countries - India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Korea, Laos, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and more with creative educational displays, artifacts, posters and banners of several countries that today make up the giant Asian continent and exploding economic powerhouse. Besides other decorations in the multi-purpose room, a colorful Indian sari-clad canopy forming a beautiful ceremonial "mundup" highlighted the space in front of the stage featuring a photographic enlargement of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, India.

The 2006 Asian Festival offered a feast of favorite Asian culinary dishes - chicken tikka masala, channa, cauliflower-potato vegetable preparation, and rice pilaf prepared North Indian Punjabi-style by Mughal Cuisine restaurant. For the nearly 500 who attended, there were also other favorites - Chinese fried rice, chicken and noodles, and delicious Chinese, Filipino, and Korean egg rolls, varied desserts and popular soft drinks.

The main attraction of the Asian Festival is always the entertainment, with the major component provided by the students themselves. This year was no exception. There was the Filipino candle dance, Polynesian drum dance, and the Israeli Hora dance. Mrs. Frances Russell, a Brebeuf friend and community volunteer, presented the festive Chinese lion dance; and Maumita Das, a Brebeuf student gave a beautiful performance of the famous classical Indian Dance, Bharat Natyam. The popular Bhangra, the colorful and energetic harvest folkdance of the Punjab, was performed with much vigor by Brebeuf students, representing diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, to the rocking sound of "Sardaran" by Punjabi singing-sensation Jazzy B. The beautiful guest artiste, Gabriela, gave a wonderful performance and demonstration of Arabian belly dancing.

The spirit of the Asian Festival is to offer a hands-on experience, a place to learn about and appreciate other cultures and traditions that are different from our own. The Festival strives to develop respect and understanding among students about the expanding cultural and spiritual representation at Brebeuf, in the community, and nation. The Festival is an invaluable introduction and opportunity to make new friends and to learn about other citizens of the world in our midst and in faraway lands.


This is a critical time in the history of our civilization. The traditional boundaries, physical and cultural barriers, antiquated ideas about cross-cultural exchanges are being fast replaced with the incredible flow of people, talents and services, global travel and information, rising expectations, and the need to learn about other cultures and nations.

This is the new Renaissance of our times - an unimagined gathering of diverse people and transcendence of cultures, adventurous pioneers, breath-taking innovation and technology, and a growing global marketplace for exchange and sharing that is shaking the old order among nations and communities as never before. This unprecedented transition is nurturing an environment of interdependence and intense competition among nations for their share of emerging opportunity and anticipated prosperity.

Today, our world is a gathering place of myriad traditions, ways of life, races and ethnicities, religions and cultures, amazing colors, textures and rhythms, and multi-faceted attractions. We must know and understand the universe that surrounds us and actively engage in and experience this richness; recognize and celebrate this multi-cultural world in all its wondrous and intriguing manifestations and develop respect for our cultural and ethnic differences. We should explore ways to integrate this diversity into a tapestry that represents and reflects our collective heritage, hopes, and legacy as a human civilization. We must make room for ideas, experiences, and perspectives different from our own. We must embrace and integrate wisdom that echoes our own; expand interest, appreciation, and sensitivity where we may be at opposite ends of the spectrum of understanding that guide us; discover threads that offer welcome hope and change in spirit; and find common ground to our intertwined destiny and future.

We have the moral responsibility to abandon indifference; dispel ignorance, unfounded perceptions and prejudices, and stereotyping of entire communities that continue to divide us and foster unfortunate mistrust and suspicion. We must gather into ever-widening courtyards like the Asian Festival and countless other such endeavors where we share light and laughter, hope and gifts, and energy and understanding to shape a better day for all humanity. We must have the courage to cross thresholds of "we cannot" into those where our heart and spirit exclaim in unison "we must" and build bridges that we, others, may travel across in friendship. Such a dream begins at home, schools, churches, intimate gatherings, community forums, and in our hearts before it can become a reality. From what we are witnessing, there is great reason for optimism and much work to do.

Kanwal Prakash KP" Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA




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Annual Asian Festival at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Indiana