For a few short hours on Sunday, the Biological and Health Sciences building in Iowa Central looked like an international airport terminal.
Travelers, clutching their passports, commuted, where they learned about local cultures and customs and tasted some of the local cuisine.
The annual Focus International Festival of Nations gave visitors the opportunity to visit a host of foreign countries without ever having to leave Fort Dodge. The event was part of Dr. Marie Sola Linney’s International Focus Series at Iowa Central, named after a former Spanish coach and college official. The series has been an annual event at the college since 1989 and is open to the public.
Booths representing countries such as Kosovo, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Palestine, Sweden and others lined the halls of the building.
Each year, the Festival of Nations will also focus on a different region. The focus this year was on the Middle East.
Central Iowa Professor David Dressel gave presentations on the people and culture of Egypt, using images and stories from his international travels.
“I believe the purpose of the Focus International Festival is to expose our community and student body to diverse cultural influences and to raise awareness about other countries and other people from around the world,” Dressel said. “This festival reminds us all that we are all human even though we have different cultural backgrounds.”
Maddie Leal, a pre-law student, stood by her booth telling passersby about her native Portugal. Lil was an international exchange student at Fort Dodge Senior High last year, and has decided to return to study at Iowa Central this year.
“Portugal is a really small country, so I feel like not many people come here,” She said. “I love this place; it’s just a different environment.”
Lyell said she enjoys Iowa Central hosting events like this to educate students and community members about other cultures.
“I think it’s really fun to be able to come here and meet people from other countries and get to know them,” She said.
Buck brings his two daughters, 11-year-old Isabel and 8-year-old Harper, to the Festival of Nations after Isabel heard about it from her teacher.
Harper Lara was excited to learn about the Midsummer Festival in Sweden, and Isabel thought it was a little strange for people from the UK to call football “football.”