Intercultural Festival to return to Monroe Park this weekend

Mark Robinson
Staff Writer

VCU’s largest celebration of diversity returns to Monroe Park this weekend with the annual Intercultural Festival (ICF).

More than 30 VCU student organizations are contributing to the festival, which will be held from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine. ICF 2011 will feature dozens of musical performances, a fashion show and a petting zoo. The event is free and open to all ages.

ICF assistant director Hassan Ahmed says this year’s festival will build on last year’s success.

“There’s going to be more performances, more vendors, more food; we want to make it bigger and better so it’s more representative of the VCU community.”

Alexandria Paul, director of ICF at VCU, credits new members of the ICF executive board for working to make this year’s festival better than ever.

“Their inexperience has definitely made the process a little more complicated,” she said. “But to me it’s very exciting because they all bring new ideas and don’t feel the confines of traditions or past years’ experience.”

Paul and Hassan are the only returning members from last year’s ICF executive board.

According to a mission statement on the ICF Facebook page, the purpose of the Intercultural Festival is to foster cultural awareness and promote cultural diversity in both the VCU and Richmond community.

Paul said the idea of “unity in diversity” is the foundation of the Intercultural Festival. “We don’t want to be the same because that doesn’t lead to change, innovation or collaboration,” she said. “We want to emphasize and celebrate our differences.”

Paul said she believes ICF has thrived at VCU because of the pride the student body takes in being diverse. “Diversity as an ideal sets VCU apart from many other universities,” Paul said. “I think as students we really appreciate that and want to emphasize our uniqueness.”

The Intercultural Festival was deemed an official tradition at VCU in 2003, but its history dates back more than 10 years; this marks the third year the festival will take place in Monroe Park.

Jenilee Holgado is the freshman marketing chair for this year’s festival. She expects attendance to increase from last year due to increased activity on the ICF’s Facebook page, which she credits to the recent success of the VCU men’s basketball team.

Alexandria Paul is optimistic that the recent publicity VCU has received will benefit this year’s Intercultural Festival.

“Right now, we are just hoping that VCU coming into the limelight more will result in ICF coming into the limelight as well, not being overshadowed by all the excitement.”

For more information about Intercultural Festival 2011, visit their website at www.icfvcu.com.

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