Vernal equinox festival raises money for Central Vermont Refugee Action Network
Nawruz, a spring festival signifying peace and solidarity, prompted Norwich University’s Intercultural Student Organization to gather and celebrate and raise money to support local Afghan families.
Norwich’s celebration, March 20, included kite flying on Sabine Field; henna skin and face painting, storytelling, a photo booth and Afghan snacks in Plumley Armory. As the Norwich Guidon student newspaper reported, Norwich’s Spanish club Tertulia, the Filipino Club, and the student International Platoon hosted tables.
Money raised supported the Central Vermont Refugee Action Network, which provides summer recreational opportunities for the children of the relocated Afghan families living in Montpelier, Vermont.
“Today, the equinox, the world is at is most balanced. A new day, a new season.”Sean Prentiss, Norwich University English professor
Nawruz marks the first day of spring and is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox. It’s been celebrated for more than 3,000 years in the Balkans, Black Sea Basin, Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. More than 300 million people around the world celebrate Nawruz now.
By emphasizing intergenerational and interfamily peace and solidarity and neighborliness, Nawruz contributes to intercultural diversity and friendship.
“Today, the equinox, the world is at is most balanced,” English professor Sean Prentiss said at the festival. “A new day, a new season.”
In opening remarks, President Mark Anarumo, who has called internationalizing campus a priority, recalled experiencing his first Nawruz celebration in a village in Kyrgyzstan when he was in the U.S. Air Force. He remembered seeing the colors, feeling the spirit and singing and dancing.
“This is the kind of event that makes Norwich truly special and truly unique.”
John Puleio. Norwich’s multilingual student services coordinator, said Nawruz brought refreshing respite after two years of coronavirus-pandemic-forced isolation.
“Our community is starved for rich and vibrant ways to be together,” he wrote in an email. “Nawruz and its focus on new beginnings and interconnectedness provided the perfect thematic backdrop to actualize this need.”
Puleio said Nawruz was the vision and the work of a newly reinvigorated Intercultural Student Organization. Student volunteers, led by Drukshan Farhad, organized and presented the event, which drew 50 special guests from Northfield and Montpelier.
Puleio said the celebration showed the university’s strong connection with its neighboring communities.
“Students learned that large, interwoven, intercultural events like these are possible,” he wrote, “and that they not only shine a light on our diversity, but are also only possible with the work and cooperation of many hands.”
The Norwich Humanities Initiative; Office of the President; Office of IDEAS; John and Mary Frances Patton Peace & War Center; the College of Liberal Arts; the International Center; Academic Achievement Center; and the Student Government Association sponsored the Nawruz celebration.
(Video by Ronny DeMasi/Norwich University.)
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