Arguably, our hometown has not yet reached the same “melting pot” level as attained — and by which defines — our homeland of America.
But no longer are we the same village of Southeast Tennessee natives who shaped the culture and molded the character of our community oh so many decades ago. Nowadays, our differences are no longer limited to color of skin and choice of denomination.
We are so very much more.
Yes, we are white and we are black. We are multiracial, just as we are brown, yellow and red.
We are Native American.
We are African-American.
We are Latin American.
We are South American.
We are of island descent from the Caribbean.
We are from motherlands of the South Pacific.
We are voyagers from ancestral borders of Europe.
We are descendants of the former Eastern Bloc.
We are refugees of civil conflict in nations of the Third World.
We are dreamers from the Dark Continent seeking the promise of education, health and opportunity.
We are from lands of a distant faith asking only acceptance, tolerance and goodwill.
We are followers of foreign trade whose lives trace an origin all the way to the Land of the Rising Sun.
We are voices from afar, accents of an unfamiliar tongue and faces of a paler light.
We are young. We are old. We are in between all extremes from newborn to final horizon.
In Cleveland and Bradley County, we truly are becoming a transglobal society. In keeping with this new theme of our existence, it is fitting that Cleveland State Community College welcomes the sixth annual Multicultural Fair on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the courtyard outside the L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium.
The fair is designed to celebrate different cultures — not just those in unseen lands on the other side of the world, but those who have made the concerted decision to travel to our Cleveland hometown in order to make it their new town.
Admission is free and the community is invited to attend.
Its 10 a.m. opening will feature an African Traditional Dress Fashion Show and Native Tongues Welcome with a colorful Parade of Nations to follow at 10:15 a.m.
Also on tap will be cultural-based entertainment, diverse food catered from Food Is Good of Cleveland, international studies information, booths featuring multiple nationalities, children’s games and activities, displays by a variety of civic and social service organizations, performances by Filipino and St. Therese Catholic Church Spanish Youth Dancers, the Cleveland Community Jazz Band, Cleveland State Chorus and Vocal Rhapsody.
Fair attendees also will enjoy the inaugural Amateur Cultural Photography Contest which is open to students, community members, youth, and CSCC personnel. Judged categories will include Americana, Beyond Our Borders, People to People, Budding Artists, and Faculty and Staff.
The Multicultural Fair is a unique opportunity. It is a gift from the elements of a new Cleveland to those who have made our Bradley County hometown a source of beauty, pride and humanitarian focus for years, all spanning a roller coaster ride of time.
Our community always embraces this day of campus goodwill. CSCC administrators, faculty, staff and students have made it all possible by giving their hearts and devoting tireless hours to bridge communication and awareness gaps between our people.
We credit project director Jana Pankey, an assistant professor of the human services and social work program, and countless numbers of volunteers who again are bringing this taste of multicultural delight to its well-deserved center stage.
Questions about Saturday’s eagerly anticipated fair may be directed to Pankey at 423-478-6230 or 423-473-2438.
It promises to be a heartwarming affair, one whose lasting goodwill tell the tale of a diverse people whose common thread lies in the shared fabric of their community, new or old.
We urge all to attend, to learn and most knowingly ... to appreciate.