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2013.02.28 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: cdreed@unomaha.edu

CultureFest to Highlight Service-Learning Projects

Omaha - When graduate student Sandra Espinosa came to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) in 2009 from her native country of Colombia, she was expecting to handle the change alone – turns out it was the exact opposite.

“It was the best experience ever to be around international students,” she says. “There were so many opportunities to share your culture with others.”

Four years later, as a graduate assistant for UNO’s Service Learning Academy, Espinosa is helping to bring the larger UNO and Omaha communities together at this year’s CultureFest, which takes place at UNO’s Thompson Alumni Center from 2 – 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 3. The Thompson Alumni Center is located on UNO’s Dodge Street Campus.

Some key aspects of this year’s CultureFest include:

* A moccasin display made by UNO’s Native American Studies students and members of Omaha South High Magnet School
* A sign-language presentation of the national anthem with students from UNO’s American Sign Language “Talking Hands” program and Beveridge Magnet Middle School
* The presentation of a special “Culture Quilt” with members of UNO’s ILUNO Intensive English program and Beveridge Magnet Middle School

Espinosa is one of the project leads for the ILUNO/Beveridge project. She worked with students from both programs to make quilt “patches” from paper that express a love of different international cultures. ILUNO students have been visiting Beveridge since the beginning of the Fall 2012 semester to assist with the project.

“Every visit the students get to meet someone from a different country,” Espinosa says. “It also introduces the students to different languages, which is incredibly important as well.”

CultureFest is a P-16 (preschool through college) Initiative event in which students from UNO and K-12 schools collaborate on projects that meet both course learning outcomes and community needs. Crestridge Magnet Elementary School, Beveridge Magnet Middle School, South High Magnet High School and UNO are partnering for this event.

In addition to the highlighted events, CultureFest will include tables dedicated to individual countries, examples of international cuisine and entertainment. Espinosa adds that while it’s important for younger children to experience different cultures, it’s never too late to introduce oneself to something, or someone, new – that goes for international students as well.

“It’s just not the same trying to learn from a book as learning from someone who has lived or lives in a different country,” she says. “There are so many negative stereotypes about other countries and events like this help end that misinformation.”

For more information on CultureFest, contact Laura Krueger at 402.554.2712 or by email at lkrueger@unomaha.edu.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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