Brazos Valley Worldfest: Celebrating Community, Culture, and Diversity

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By Megan Rodriguez

For the last decade, Brazos Valley Worldfest has highlighted world cultures represented in the community, and on Nov. 18, coordinators will combine old classics with new additions to continue the promotion of international diversity.

The 11th annual festival will welcome back past performers such as the Japanese drum group Kaminari Taiko from Houston to headline the performance. Additionally, there will be international film showings, and the event will be hosted at the Brazos County Expo Complex for the first time.

The film series from Nov. 16 to 18, which is replacing the Friday night concert and dance from previous years, has gained a lot of interest locally and is one of the many ways BVW promotes diversity outside of the one-day festival.

“This year the theme is dance, so all the films will be films from around the world that are centered around dance in some form,” says Kim Fox, festival coordinator of BVW. “Brazos Valley Worldfest has definitely grown beyond a one-day event once a year … Our mission is to promote and celebrate the international diversity and heritage of the Brazos Valley, so we are always looking for unique and creative ways to share that year-round. We are getting lots of new ideas and putting them out there, like our culture club dinners and Zumbathon.”

With the high level of diversity in the community, Fox says the BVW team wants everyone who comes to the area to be a part of the community while they are here.

“We feel like Texas A&M University and Bryan College Station is a very unique environment for Texas and other parts of the country since we attract so many international students, faculty, staff, and their families here,” says Fox. “In our community, we have over 120 different countries and cultures represented in just our student population.”

Involvement in the festivities is an opportunity for people to learn about fellow members of the community, says Shannon Madlock, BVW board of directors chair.

“It’s always exciting to me to learn about other people’s culture and heritage and so this was an opportunity to spread that to the community and get everyone else excited about different cultures and heritage and food and travel,” says Madlock. “I think sometimes we get stuck in our little bubble, and we don’t realize how much more there is out there.”

BVW will host 50 or more culture booths for both individuals and organizations who have a culture they wish to present to visitors. All booths are free to set up. While most displays contain one specific heritage, Yashwant Prakash Vyas’ is an all-encompassing presentation aimed to show the similarities in people across the world. Vyas is a graduate student at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, fifth year participant at BVW, and the founder of the festival’s student ambassador program.

“The core message of my booth is to promote diversity and promote global citizenship and to help visitors gain an appreciation for diversity and how we can support one another despite our differences,” says Vyas.

The event will be a unique opportunity for the community to experience, according to Vyas.

“It’s like having the whole world come together in one place,” says Vyas. “You have this wonderful opportunity to educate yourself, and in a way travel around the world to learn about the different cultures. … Don’t miss out on this opportunity for education and exposure. Please do take some time out of your busy schedules to come out to Brazos Valley Worldfest this year and experience all the cultural display booths and performances.”

Brazos Valley Worldfest will be accepting display applications until Oct. 18. The event is free and open to the public. Texas A&M University Public Partnership and Outreach Office will organize this year’s festivities with different departments acting as sponsors and others setting up culture displays. For more information on festival attractions and entertainment, visit www.brazosvalleyworldfest.org.