International Day Ideas

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In widespread use since the mid-20th century, the "international day" concept is intended to observe an idea or topic of worldwide concern. On a local level, it can simply raise awareness of how global concerns affect us all. Schools, communities and other groups can celebrate an international day with an educational, multicultural festival. With world music and dance, informative booths for various countries, an international food court and a wide variety of games and activities, this event can provide knowledge and understanding in an interactive and entertaining way.

Hands on a globe.
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Ideally, this large-scale event incorporates many volunteers and participants. Therefore, it should take place in a spacious area, such as a school gymnasium or a public park. Volunteers can help host the event, while event-day visitors become "tourists" of the many cultures and countries represented.

The perimeter should be established with a large circle of booths. A clear area in the middle should be established for dances, music and other demonstrations. Loudspeakers should be placed between the booths so that a wide variety of world music can be played throughout the event.

Depending on the estimated number of participants, prepare a stack of passports. These passports are simple notebooks made of white paper stapled together with a decorative front page. These booklets can then be stamped with an individual seal at each of the events that the tourists participate in, providing them with a memorable record of their involvement. Consider offering an award at the end of the day for the participant with the most stamps.

Use a large space, like a school gym.
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Informative booths provide the bulk of the education on event day.

These booths are prepared and hosted by volunteers or students. Each booth provides information about a different country. Booth hosts should be encouraged to wear native dress and come prepared with handouts and other displays for the booth.

Each booth should provide a basic introduction to the country represented. Introduce language by teaching visitors native greetings. Introduce the country with a visual representation in the form of a 3D topographical map. Samples of native food can be given at the booths. Creative hosts can help tourists fashion native crafts, such as masks, toys or simple musical instruments. Hosts representing countries where face-painting is popular can offer that activity as well.

In the center of the ring of booths, have volunteers teach basic dances from a variety of countries. Videos of various international folk dances have been placed on YouTube by Roy Butler, the main contributor to the International Folk Dance Video List, at www.youtube.com/user/royisdancing.

Volunteers and students.
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Volunteers can operate a wide variety of food stands and can, at the school or community’s discretion, even earn profits from their sales. Food should include authentic ingredients and native recipes to accurately introduce tourists to different meals from around the globe.

For example, a Mexican stand would sell burritos, tacos and other easy-to-handle "street" foods. A Greek booth could sell gyros and lamb-artichoke stew. Other foods could include baked ziti and tiramisu at an Italian booth or sausages and sauerkraut at a German stand.

To encourage participation, offer a contest with awards based on most authentic recipe, most complicated recipe, most popular with tourists, least popular with tourists, most popular with judges and other categories.

Serve authentic food.
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A variety of multicultural games should be available. This will be especially captivating to young children, who may not understand the details given at the booths or be coordinated enough to participate in the dancing.

To help improve coordination with chopsticks, for instance, offer a table where players compete against each other to see how many cotton balls they can pick up using chopsticks. Have this event timed for added competitiveness.

Fencing and sumo wrestling are popular multicultural sports that can be recreated at a multicultural festival. When hosting fencing games, offer soft weaponry, such as foam swords, as well as protective eye wear and other clothing. Each round ends when an opponent has been touched with the weapon five times.

Two sumo wrestlers should compete while wearing a special suit made out of pillows for padding. Sumo wrestlers are usually heavy men, and the bulk of the pillows can reduce a participant’s agility and help them understand the true sumo wrestling experience. The goal of this wrestling is to push the opponent out of the ring. Before beginning each round, have wrestlers bow to each other and the audience.

Sumo wrestler.
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