25 cultures in one spot!

Do you know that almost every school in the area called Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina can boast of population of students whose families come from so many different cultures and countries? Local communities here in RTP: kids and adults – are exposed to such an exceptional and unique mixture of languages, cultures, traditions, arts, music and flavors from all around the world.

Tonight, my son’s elementary school hosts an International Festival – an exciting celebration of more than 25 cultures and countries! Kids and their parents will have an amazing opportunity to explore the cultures of the world from first hands without leaving US! What a treat!

international festival in elementary school

The Tatar culture is represented in the 2013 International Festival

Flags in the school hallway represet countries of students' heritage

Flags in the school hallway represent countries of students’ heritage

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This year the introduction of Tatar culture and arts at the 28th annual International Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina has become inevitable because the theme was “Art, Crafts and Music”. The Tatars have so much to share and to be proud of! There are several unique art techniques that the Tatars developed, among which Tatar leather mosaic takes the special place. This year the festival was attended by over 25000 guests. Debutant of the festival -Tatar cultural exhibit – was warmly welcomed and heavily visited. Amazing volunteers from different cultural backgrounds (Tatar, American, Uzbek, Indian, Chinese…) helped to put together and run the booth.

Boot showcase

Explaining that the boot has been stitched by hand

Over 3 days we explained our guests who are the Tatars, where majority of them live, why Tatar culture is different from Russian, what are the arts and crafts that Tatars are accountable for. We showcased Tatar leather mosaic, embroidery, weaving, jewelry, book illustrations. We gave opportunity to listen to Tatar music, to repeat Tatar dance moves and to decorate paper boots; aprons and hats by very own Tatar ornamental patterns.  We observed such emotions as surprise, when guests learned about the ethnic group the majority have never heard before; the excitement, when the guests realized that they discovered something new and interesting; the amazement, when they saw how the leather mosaic is created… I, particularly, will never forget the big amazed eyes of a young girl when she realized that all the boots in the exhibits were made by hand.

I hope this first experience of showcasing Tatar arts and crafts to such broad American audience is a good start in changing stereotypical associations of Tatars with Mongols, warriors and peace breakers. I want Tatars to be well-known as peaceful, creative, innovative, sport-loving and caring people with culture and arts to be inspired and strived for.

I want to thank everyone who supported and encouraged me to organize and run the exhibit! I am, particularly, expressing my cheers to an exceptional American girl – Lily – whose incredible desire to learn and enjoy Tatar language, whose unimaginable inner power and strong and humble personality inspire me to diligently spread the word about the Tatars and their rich and mesmerizing culture.