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Passport to culture

Around the World event brings global experiences to area youth

Dipti Pancholy moved to the U.S. from India when she was five, but never forgot her cultural roots. At the Around the World event, children were able to try on traditional Indian costumes while Pancholy created henna designs.

Bill Tarutis/GOlackawanna.com

SCRANTON - Today’s society is global- from business to entertainment. In the spirit of bringing the world’s vast culture to children, the Kids Around the World Multicultural Kids’ Festival will be held Sunday, September 20 at Scranton High School.

Explore the world without leaving Scranton at the Kids around the World multicultural festival Sunday at Scranton High School.

The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., boasts a jam-packed schedule and tents representing 16 countries.

For the admission of $5 in advance or $7 at the door, children will receive a passport that can be stamped at the individual booths.

Those booths, many manned by natives of the countries, will have displays, demonstrations and activities.

Some of the natives include Carmina Rinkunas from the Dominican Republic, Tata Mbugua in the Kenya booth and Rika Schaffer from Israel.

Dipti Pancholy jumped at the chance to participate in a multicultural event in Scranton.

“I had my first piece of pizza in Scranton,” said Pancholy, who moved to the U.S. from India at age 5. “I consider this my home.”

Pancholy is working at the India booth, where children will be able to try on traditional Indian costumes. Pancholy’s daughters Neha and Maitri, along with Leela Baikadi, will be creating henna designs.

Aside from the booths, the main stage will feature a wide range of dances, including Irish, Russian, Italian and more. Aikido, Tai Chi and yoga demonstrations are also scheduled.

Pancholy, who will be teaching two Indian folk dances, Garba and Dandia-Ras, believes dance is central to culture because it is a shared experience.

Learning and then performing the dances together will give the children that shared experience.

Mary Ann LaPorta, director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA and one of the emcees of the event sees the educational value in the day.

“It’s a special way of showing the interdependence of a global world,” said LaPorta who is co-emcee with Dave Kuharchik, chief meteorologist at WYOU-TV.

The event, which was in the planning stages for nearly six months, will benefit the Timmy’s Town Center, a children’s museum scheduled to open in the Mall at Steamtown in honor of Timmy Kelly, who died of cancer at age 5. “The goal and outcome is important,” LaPorta said. “To have a children’s museum in Scranton is a great gift.”

According to the event chair, Joan Mead-Matsui, the event was originally going to be an art auction, but economic woes caused the plan to evolve into a low cost, family-oriented, cultural festival.

Since the planning began, Mead-Matsui said she has been inundated with people interested in helping.

“People are coming out of the woodwork, from ticket selling to being involved with the different countries,” Mead-Matsui said.

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