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Article updated: 1/27/2013 4:51 PM

Annual International Festival showcases cultures in Naperville

Penwille Chen, 10, of Woodridge performs Shaolin Kung Fu on Sunday during North Central College’s 17th annual International Festival in the Naperville college’s Merner Field House Naperville.

Penwille Chen, 10, of Woodridge performs Shaolin Kung Fu on Sunday during North Central College's 17th annual International Festival in the Naperville college's Merner Field House Naperville.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

A dance group for the Xilin Asian Community Center in Naperville performs during North Central College’s 17th annual International Festival in the Merner Field House in Naperville on Sunday.

A dance group for the Xilin Asian Community Center in Naperville performs during North Central College's 17th annual International Festival in the Merner Field House in Naperville on Sunday.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Grace Orlowski, 6, of Daisy Scout Troop 50166 carries a Sierra Leone flag during the Flag Ceremony at North Central College’s 17th annual International Festival in the Merner Field House, Sunday in Naperville.

Grace Orlowski, 6, of Daisy Scout Troop 50166 carries a Sierra Leone flag during the Flag Ceremony at North Central College's 17th annual International Festival in the Merner Field House, Sunday in Naperville.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Mikayla Giehler, 10 of Girl Scout Troop 240 leads a group during the Flag Ceremony at North Central College’s 17th annual International Festival in the Merner Field House, Sunday in Naperville.

Mikayla Giehler, 10 of Girl Scout Troop 240 leads a group during the Flag Ceremony at North Central College's 17th annual International Festival in the Merner Field House, Sunday in Naperville.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

The Lion Dance kicks off the performances during North Central College’s 17th annual International Festival in the Merner Field House, Sunday in Naperville.

The Lion Dance kicks off the performances during North Central College's 17th annual International Festival in the Merner Field House, Sunday in Naperville.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

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People danced, made samurai helmets out of newspaper and learned about Naperville-area foreign-exchange programs at the 17th annual "Around the Corner, Around the World" International Festival Sunday at North Central College.

The event in the Merner Fieldhouse started with a parade of international flags carried by almost three dozen Daisy, Brownie and Girl scouts, and a presentation of the colors by Boy Scouts. Naperville Mayor George Pradel gave an enthusiastic welcome.

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"It is so wonderful to see so many different countries' flags flying," he said, "As we get to know you, we get to know and love you, and that way we won't be going to war, because we will understand your basis of life."

Also in attendance was Congressman Bill Foster, who marveled at the performers and their parents.

"Just look at the diversity that permeates the 11th (Congressional) District," he said.

Troy Hammond, president of the college, said the number of international students attending NCC has grown rapidly, and that one in three NCC graduates visits a foreign country during their studies.

Among the performers were the NARTAN Indian dance group demonstrating classical dance. There were also performances by Irish, Lithuanian, Polish, Chinese and Greek dancers; a gymnastics demonstration by Sokol Naperville; and half-hour opportunities to practice a foreign language, in immersion sessions.

Penwille Chen, 10, of Woodridge amazed the crowd with one of his moves during a kung fu demonstration set to music, coming out of a midair flip to land in a split. His routine, with a prop sword, left him breathless by the end, in a good way.

"I just like the feeling. I like running around," he said. Chen has worked on the routine for about a year, and has studied kung fu for three years.

North Central language clubs, the Alliance Française De Dupage, Naperville's Sister Cities Commission, the Rotary Club, the Naperville Cultural Center and their organizations had informational displays and activities.

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