International Faribault Festival took place on August 23, as planned, and I was there. As soon as I arrived at the festival venue, the city of Faribault's Central Park, I was moved by the display of flags on the main stage. Festival participants from various nations were on hand to say a few words about their national flags and their countries.
Afterwards, these people walked down from the stage, in single file, bearing their flags. They placed these flags in the middle of the open space, where they stood for the duration of the festival.
As they fluttered in the wind, displaying their many colors, these flags were a veritable feast for the eyes.
There were many booths and tables, where vendors sold food, soft drinks, jewelry, perfumes, clothes and other items.
There were music and dance groups from different cultures offering entertainment.
As always happens on these occasions, I saw people I know, but I also met and had conversations with people I did not know before, such as the ones in the photo on the left. The lady on the right is originally from Ireland, the gentleman in a white shirt is from Somalia, and the lady on the left is from the U.S.A. You can imagine the diversity of experiences and perspectives we brought into our conversation. We took this photo after all three had bought the books they wanted.
I have noted, over the years, that a table or a booth at events such as the International Faribault Festival is a kind of magnet which attracts people, creating opportunities for conversations. People gather at my table and have discussions with me or among themselves. Since the focus of my work is education and issues concerning the impact and implications of cultural differences, most of the conversations around my table deal with these issues. In the photo on the left, we see the two ladies that featured in the photo above, with a gentleman from Nigeria.
One of the touching moments during these encounters is the signing of books. It is, for me, both an honour and a humbling experience when a customer asks to have her or his book signed.
Equally touching is the moment when a customer poses for a photo with me, proudly displaying the book or books she or he has just bought. Like any writer, I am happy and gratified that my ideas reach an ever growing audience.
I wish to conclude with a word of gratitude to the organizers of the International Faribault Festival, as well as the volunteers, for all the work they did to make this valuable and memorable event possible.