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Indianapolis, Indiana, March 27, 2009
Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh

For decades, the United States of America has experienced Irish, Italian, German, and Greek feasts, festivals, and parades; and today we have added Holi (Indian Festival of Color), Baisakhi (Sikh religious and cultural celebration), Eid (Muslim religious observance and feast), Diwali (Indian Festival of Light), Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies; Chinese New Year, Latino, International, and Asian Festivals and countless other celebrations in churches, schools, and communities to the cultural life, richness, and spirit of America. They are reflecting the transcending global frontiers, the movement and convergence of people to new places in search of better opportunities, and the resulting emergence of a new cultural and spiritual landscape in America and the pride of Asia.

The tenth annual Asian Festival at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School:
A much-awaited landmark event, a colorful and fabulous Brebeuf tradition by now, the 2009 Asian Festival was bigger, better, and more exciting than ever. Several hundred students, faculty, community leaders, and guests attended the event. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Mrs. Ballard were in attendance as the honored guests at this year’s Asian Festival.

There was plenty of pride and pageantry: students, faulty members, guests, and performers paraded in a rich variety of ethnic attire, including several in colorful Punjabi salwar-kameez outfits and Indian saris; others in native brocaded and embroidered Chinese, Filipino, Laotian, and Middle Eastern dresses. Japanese kimonos, festive and colorful turbans worn by the Sikh men of Punjab, ladies in traditional Muslim hijab, and students in Jewish yarmulkes added to the charm and aura of an international village.

Once again, the Asian Festival featured cultural booths from several Asian countries, including Japan, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, China, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Israel, and others. There was also a student exhibit of Japanese Anime and the popular Mehndi (henna) artist. Some of the booths offered refreshments, symbolic of Asian cultural tradition of welcoming guests and friends to their homes, as the exhibitors proudly shared information and pride about their country and cultural heritage.

The Multi-Purpose Room, as in the years past, was filled with the aromas of the delicious Asian Lunch-Buffet of favorite dishes and the familiar and exotic, ancient and popular sounds of Japanese, Punjabi, Filipino, Indian and American music that accompanied the dances performed by Brebeuf students and professional groups. The major highlight of the Asian Festival was the entertainment, including: a Turkish Gypsy belly dance and a traditional Turkish Sword Dance performed by Brebeuf students under the direction of Brebeuf faculty member, Ms. Rosina Catalan; the Filipino folk dances and the exciting Bamboo-Stick Dance by the SAYWA Professional Dance Group; the charming Japanese folk dances presented by the Indianapolis-based Minyo Dancers; and the colorful and exuberant Bhangra, the folk dance of the Punjab, performed by Brebeuf students. The venue was beautifully decorated for the occasion and the Festival showcased a rich, colorful, and ancient culture and natural heritage.

Mayor Greg Ballard was welcomed to a thunderous applause by The Asian Club moderator, Mrs. Janice Singh, as “our diversity and education Mayor” and a friend of Brebeuf Jesuit. The Asian Club presented a brocaded Indian silk scarf to Mrs. Ballard in honor of her being our beautiful Asian American First Lady of the City and for her continued commitment to the School as a former Brebeuf parent.

The proceeds from the sale of food and sponsorships of the Asian Festival go toward a minority student scholarship each year. Many Brebeuf parents volunteer their time and talents to the Festival. Mrs. Janice Singh serves as the moderator of the Asian Club, and produces and directs this fabulous event at Brebeuf Jesuit each year.

Heritage awareness and dispelling unfounded stereotypes:
Many festivals and celebrations introduce us to different communities and cultures and encourage us to learn and relate to people and traditions that were once unfamiliar. The Asian Festival in a friendly forum offers many teachable moments to dispel stereotyped misconceptions and past indifference. It is another way of preparing our youth to learn about the world, see themselves as international citizens, and imagine many awaiting global adventures.

Diversity as our newest and promising frontier of opportunity:
For diversity to be meaningful in our society and times, we should focus on the ideas, talents, and commitments of the new immigrants and cultures in our midst. To realize its full potential and vitality, we must be culturally sensitive and inclusive, recognize our expanding assets and new realities, and explore ways how best this new resource may be integrated into the societal fabric and institutions, mainstreamed into the community life and spirit.

Rich cultural mosaic adds to city strengths and attractiveness as a welcome destination:
The presence of diverse communities and their familiar ethnic, cultural, and spiritual anchors in a community is very important to the recent arrivals, and is often a major attraction for people wanting to locate in a community. In an increasingly independent and intensely competitive world, understanding and appreciation of other cultures must be an essential area of youth education, especially for those planning to travel or live abroad on professional or business assignments, and engage in pursuits that may involve other cultures and traditions. A rich cultural diversity adds another important dimension to the image and attractiveness of cities as future destinations for living, business, visit, and creative associations.




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Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA