If you want to watch flamenco dancers and see an Indian classical dance performance and compare Korean-style martial arts with the Japanese style, you could do a bunch of research, spend a fortune on tickets and fill your calendar with your cultural mission.
Or you could set aside the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 11, for the 22nd annual "Around the Corner, Around the World" International Festival.
If you goWhat: North Central College's 22nd annual International Festival
When: Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11
Where: Merner Field House, 450 S. Brainard St., Naperville
Tickets: $7 at the door; free for ages 4 and younger
Info: (630) 637-5132 or northcentralcollege.edu
From noon to 4 p.m., North Central College's Merner Fieldhouse will be filled with the sights, sounds and even tastes of world cultures as performances and hands-on informational booths offer insight into the traditions of religious and ethnic groups, said Jack Shindler, director of the college's Center for Global Education.
Shindler, an English professor, has long been involved with the festival, which is intended as a celebration of Naperville's cultural diversity.
"In 1996, it was started by the international committee at the YMCA," he said.
Evy Schum, a longtime Naperville resident and a committee member, was instrumental in getting the festival started, he said.
With more than two decades of history, the festival itself has become a tradition that has grown to include more educational opportunities while continuing to showcase groups like the Nartan Indian Dancers, who have been eager to share their culture since the festival began, Shindler said.
Also on the schedule will be Polish, German and Irish dance groups, including the Weber and McNulty dancers, and an act known as the Indian and Russian Firebird Gypsy Dancers, Shindler said. And members of local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops will be on hand to add to the pageantry.
Visitors will have the opportunity to take mini language-immersion classes. Shindler said those interested in learning a few basic words and phrases in German, Spanish, Japanese or Arabic can visit a nearby classroom for a brief lesson or participate in a quick lesson right on the gym floor.
"These will all be taught by native speakers who are students here," he said.
Caterers will offer Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian and American food for sale.
The festival is a fundraiser for scholarships that help fund trips abroad for North Central students and help bring foreign students to campus to study, Shindler said.
Last year, he said, festival proceeds helped finance two students' study abroad trips to Chile and Japan and brought a student from Honduras, another from the Philippines and a third from Vietnam to campus.