Locals learn about different cultures at Multicultural Fair

Susan Pender — USD 475’s English Language Learner coordinator — assists Inja Park (right) while she reads “Sister Son and Brother Moon" to visitors at the district's Multicultural Fair.

Residents had an opportunity to learn about many different cultures last weekend in Junction City.

Unified School District 475 hosted the Multicultural Fair at Heritage Park. Susan Pender — the district’s English Language Learner coordinator — said it was the first time the district hosted the event since sometime in the 1990s.

“We brought it back because we have such a diverse culture in Junction City,” Pender said. “We need to promote that. We wanted an opportunity to bring everyone together and celebrate culture.”

Members of many different cultures gathered to enjoy activities including dancing, singing, reading stories and playing games. Inja Park — who is Korean, but lives in Junction City now, where she works at a local church — read the book “Sister Son and Brother Moon” to visitors. She read the book in Korean, and said she chose that title because the content is similar to the content in some American books. Park had a vendor table set up at the park, and she said some Korean candy she gave visitors was a big hit.

“They love it,” Park said. “Lots of people here say, ‘My country has that too.’ I’m also writing in Korean for people today. This is a multicultural event, so a lot of people here have actually seen stuff (from different cultures). We are all from different cultures, but we are still the same (in many ways).”

Pender said the school district includes students and staff who speak 51 different languages. She said presenting different cultural views to community members is important, which is something she recently discussed with a Kansas State professor.

“She said we grow up learning our own way, and sometimes we get stuck thinking our way is best,” Pender said. “But we can benefit from learning from others. Some people don’t get an opportunity to interact with other cultures.”

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