Today, I attended the World Festival at the Mayo High School in Rochester, Minnesota, which I mentioned on this blog. I set up my table, displaying my publications and the Tanzanian national flag. People, some saying they were attracted by my display, came to talk with me about my work and share their stories. I remember, for example, an American lady who said that she has a friend who taught at the Moshi International School in Tanzania. Another lady said that she had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Kenya during the mid eighties.
For the duration of the festival, people kept coming and going. At my table and around the exhibition hall and in the corridors, I met and spoke with people from many countries, including China, Philippines, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, U.S.A., Mexico, Trinidad, and Guatemala.
The two men in the picture on the left are from Guatemala. After I gave them my little newspaper article, "Chickens in the Bus," the man wearing a hat regaled me with tales of how in Guatemala one can see people traveling in the bus with their chicken or piglet.
The lady in the picture on the left represented Trinidad. I told her I have read and taught some Trinidadian literary works. I mentioned Sam Selvon as one of my favourite writers.
She asked if I had read The Lonely Londoners. I told her that that is one of the works I liked the most and that I had taught it a number of times. We went on to talk about other writers, including V.S. Naipaul, Shiva Naipaul, and Earl Lovelace.
The festival involved many aspects. There were artistic performances, drumming, displays of national flags, art, handcrafted items, musical instruments, jewelry, and publications. There was even a karate demonstration.
The diversity of cultures and organizations represented at the festival was impressive. The pictures on this page, taken at random, afford some indication of this fact. The festival presented unique and unforgettable learning opportunities.
It is not possible to recount everything that transpired at the festival. Considering that there were hundreds of attendees, it is clear that there were countless experiences and conversations. This was a truly significant community event with global significance, for which the Rochester International Association deserves much praise and gratitude.