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OP-ED: FIUTS CulturalFest: Where the world unites and shows the pure joy in their hearts

Have you ever felt the warmth of Seattle? Exploring and roaming around the city for three years, the lively cultural diversity never stops fascinating me. The one-night cultural gala held at the Benaroya Hall was a masterpiece—and the richest collection of cultures I’ve ever seen.

I walked through the entry door full of excitement. In front of me was uncharted land; Armenia, Poland, Puerto Rico, China, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, etc. The hall was filled with tables decorated with snacks, patterns, and giant national flags from around the world. Harmonious melodies and laughter all over the place—it was as if global peace had finally come upon us. I felt sorry for Aristotle because it did not matter to me if the earth was round or not since the entire “world” was in that Colosseum-like room.

The festival thrilled me with its music, and I also enjoyed dancing with others. The event started at 4:30 p.m. with an announcement and greetings. I watched a Puerto Rican performance, which was a prelude to the main activity; an adventure in the uncharted lands. The elegant dance in the Persian purple dress was like a fish: elegantly and lively swimming in serene water that caught everyone’s eyes.

Guillermo Becerra, @Gllrmob on Instagram
Rio Takahashi | The Seattle Collegian

Interviewing people from different nations; Syria, Jordan, Japan, Palestine, Puerto Rico, and Iran, I kept running around in my palace of knowledge and memories while listening to their stories. When I talked to a man from Jordan, it scared me to think that I could die without visiting such a beautiful country with its breathtaking nature, ocean, and pompous sites.

Mohammad Zakaria, who hosted Palestine’s booth, says he chose to do so because he liked the idea of representing his country.

“Showing our special culture that I am proud of, the culture that will never disappear, whatever they try,” he said. “Palestine and Jordan are so similar. Our culture is the same, food, traditions. Palestine still exists, even if they are removed from the map. It’s in our hearts and minds; it’s our soul.”

Rio Takahashi | The Seattle Collegian Mohammed Zakaria and his booth

After the Ukrainian Cossack dance, it was 7:00 p.m. The doors opened, and there were countless seats and a vast dance hall inside. Starting with Taiko Kai, many dances and performances were showcased. K-pop, Philippines, Armenian ballroom dance, Colombian Folk Rhythms, and Bollywood fusion dance. One of the most outstanding performances engraved in my heart was ESCAPE—a story of a girl trying to find happiness through 90s Bronx Hip-Hop street dancing and disco/funk clubs.

It is tiring to not be able to live in your own way, but it is crucial to turn your ear to other’s advice to live, better known as inconstancy; grievance, jealousy, underestimation, and individuality. We are trapped in a fortress of others’ idealizations, always under the pressure of being looked up to. “Find one’s escape means find one’s happiness and peace,” said the girl performing, and I believe the “escape” can be anything we want—dancing, a friend, or being yourself.

Rio Takahashi | The Seattle Collegian Ending ceremony

The harmony of respect for the other, the generosity to accept, and the heart to enjoy all of that is the recipe for global peace I learned from the CulturalFest. If you are in Seattle next year, I highly recommend attending this event and experiencing Seattle’s true cultural diversity.

Author

Rio Takahashi

Rio Takahashi is a small traveler trying to see this big world with curiosity and ambition, and with a camera. Language, drawing, Ernest Hemingway, antique shopping are the joy of his life. Rio is happy now to study Hawaiian language.

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