‘A piece of the world’ in Corydon
‘This is such a unique festival: A piece of the world is happening in a small town in Southern Indiana. It’s a true testament that the whole country is becoming international, not just the big cities. Even Corydon, Ind., has a piece of the world in it, too.’
That’s how Omar Ayyash, 32, Louisville, described Community Unity’s sixth annual World on the Square festival Saturday afternoon in Corydon. Ayyash was licking an ice cream cone and listening to a Caribbean steel drum band on the bandstand. Ayyash, a native of Amman, Jordan, is director of international affairs for Mayor Jerry Abramson in Louisville, and he will become a U.S. citizen next month.
With him on Saturday was his wife, Lana, 27, their six-month-old daughter, Salma (the first United States citizen in their family) and Lana’s parents, Dr. Zubi and Etidal Zuhair of Amman. Dr. Zuhair is director of health services in Jordan and works for United Nations’ Palestinian work relief agencies.
Lana is an employment specialist for the Center for Women and Families in Louisville.
Dr. Zuhair was also impressed with the inclusive and loving spirit of the popular festival, which is designed to help people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds get to know each other and appreciate their uniqueness as well as the things they have in common.
Dr. Zuhair, a pediatrician who trained in Jordan, Pakistan and Great Britain, said, ‘It’s very beautiful. It seems they have no hate. This is what the whole world is talking about, the need now for love and peace among all countries in the world.
‘We have to learn how to love each other. Some people might find it difficult because to hate is easier than to love. Love means you have to give. Hate means to take. Hate is easier than love.’
‘This is wonderful,’ added his son-in-law, Ayyash, who earned a degree in marketing several years ago at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. ‘To value diversity, to get more people to understand what it means to value diversity, is very smart.
‘I’m very impressed with your-all’s community. This is your sixth year. There is unity in diversity.’
Flashes of cultural diversity were everywhere on the square from 4 to 8 p.m. One could hear steel drum music from the Caribbean and polka favorites from Germany. One little girl, age 2-1/2, danced for about an hour by herself on the wooden temporary dance floor. If you wanted to check up on your family history, the genealogists at the Scottish Society of Louisville brought boxes full of files. (Maybe you were Scottish after all.) A woman from Mexico sold bracelets and ceramic wall flower vases. Her daughter was dressed as an Aztec princess. The Alliance Francaise sold Sno Cones, although Maryse Burns, a native of France, said you can’t buy Sno Cones in France. Rekia Mahmoud, a woman from Eritrea who speaks five languages and has traveled the world, sold scarves and jewelry. A Tibetan Buddhist monk who fled the Communist Chinese in 1959s and is now teaching in Louisville, answered questions through an interpretor. Tae Kwon Do Grandmaster Young S. Choi explained martial arts during a demonstration by his students. There were games and arts for the children, and plenty to eat. In one of the most popular aspects of WOTS, local cooks filled tables with ethnic food in the basement of the Corydon United Methodist Church. People stood in line for a long time to get a taste of the world. Food organizer Elizabeth Cato said about 650 came through the food line.
(A visitor from Trinidad wondered why there was no food from her country represented. She vowed to bring some next year.)
One woman wore a sign taped to her back that said, ‘No hate zone.’
Elizabeth Kellem, the festival co-chair with Ila Cornett, deemed the festival ‘very successful.’ She said the children learned a lot and adults gained some appreciation of other cultures.
She said the attendance was ‘fantastic’ considering that it was very hot, but that was tempered by a nice breeze.