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

Annual International Festival showcases cultures in Naperville

By Susan Sarkauskas

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.

"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 Franšaise 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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