Story and Photos by Colby Turner | Contributing Writer and Elise Sandlin | Contributing author
The sun shone on the Student Union Commons as the community of Murfreesboro came together to celebrate their differences and unique heritage with the fifth annual International Boro Festival on Saturday, November 13 at Middle Tennessee State University.
This festival is held for various ethnicities to share the culture and history of their people. Attendees were dressed in traditional clothing from their heritage and could stroll through the festival and craft fair which sold art, food and clothing from diverse countries.
Food trucks were also present, including a Wawa Expresso-decorated Volkswagen bus that served drinks.
There were several cultural performances during the festival, including performances by MTSU’s Chinese Instrumental Ensemble, Lakota-Sioux hoop dancer Kevin Locke, and many others.
The first performance of the day was given by a group dressed in native clothing who danced in the center of the courtyard, stomping and shouting to a rhythmic drum as the audience watched.
After the first performance, a children’s march was held through the Commons as United States for Africa’s ‘We Are the World’ played. With the American flag in the lead, each child held a flag from a different country that fluttered in the wind as they walked.
After the march, Jimmy Reedy, who served as the state Indian Commissioner from 2003 to 2005, read an acknowledgment of land for Indigenous peoples, acknowledging that the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and other tribes first inhabited this which is now Tennessee.
Ruby Rodriquez and Maribel Rivera of the Sol De Mexico Folkloric Ballet prepared their Mexican folk dance, dressed in beautiful dresses from the Jalisco region of Mexico. “We had the honor of going to Hopkinsville, Kentucky for the Ola Festival, St. Louis, Missouri and other private and public events,” Rodriquez said.
The Student Union Commons was full of booths from countries around the world. Each stand offered popular products and activities from its respective country.
Dashikis, unique handmade Ghanaian shirts and jewelry that were once so valuable they were used as currency in Ghana. Dashikis were for sale at one of the stalls. The man working the booth said his heritage is African and decorated his tent with Jamaican, Ethiopian and Honduran flags, along with others.
MTSU’s Japanese program held its own booth where participants could complete the “chopstick challenge” by seeing how many items they could move from bowl to bowl in less than 45 seconds.
The Japanese program booth also featured volunteers dressed in elaborate costumes inspired by manga and anime characters who handed out stamps to children who read “good luck” and other phrases in Japanese.
On the other side of the township, a stand advertised the Festival of Veils event, which supports the religious and cultural right of women to wear a veil if they wish.
“For anyone who has a veil in their story, we’re just trying to support women who choose to wear a veil and fight a lot of the discrimination against them, like in sports and other things,” said Festival of Veils President Khadijah. Alnassari, “We have women’s rights groups there.” The event will take place on March 19, 2022 at the Student Union Commons and will feature many athletes and others who have fought against discrimination against wearing the veil.
At another stall, a father and son were selling Ecuadorian sheep and llama wool ponchos and sweaters. As the son translated for his father, he said they were descended from indigenous Inca tribes.
Working near an eastern South African stall, Swazi-born Ntianu Bullock was selling traditional Swazi capes handmade in that country. “This event is an opportunity for all of Murfreesboro to research cultures from everywhere…I like it. I hope we continue to do so,” Bullock said.
The festival takes place every year and is a great opportunity to engage with other cultures and celebrate one’s heritage. There was never a dull moment, and with international food to eat and shows to watch, it was a fun and educational time for people of all ages.
To contact Lifestyles Editor Ethan Pickering, email [email protected]
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