The Second Annual Children’s Festival, held in Detroit, Michigan, was co-organized by the Turkish American Society of Michigan (TASM), the Niagara Foundation and the Balkan American Community Center.
More than 300 children from approximately 20 countries attended the gala. Among the exhibits were Romanian craft, Japanese origami, and Chinese and Turkish calligraphy. The children dressed in their traditional costumes and enjoyed face-painting stalls, tightrope walking plus a host of different activities. There were various presentations, including Bharatnatyam (an Indian traditional dance), African tribal percussion, Asian dance and Turkish musical performances.
The president of the Turkish American Society, Tolga T. Çelik, expressed his delight at the children interacting with one another and appreciating their different cultures.
TASM organized the event, attended by 600 people, at the Wayne State University auditorium. Çelik stated that the goal was to promote cultural exchange and understanding among Michiganders, with the aim of peace, fellowship and adding vibrancy to the city of Detroit. For the past 10 years, International Children’s Day events have been organized in other states with a high Turkish population. Not only was the Turkish community present at this year’s event but other ethnicities also showed interest. In fact, children from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland and South Korea as well as from the Hmong people and Meskhetian Turks represented their cultures.
Honorable guests included Professor Ahmad Ezzeddine, associate vice president for Educational Outreach and International Programs at Wayne State University, Rep. Hansen Clarke, Michigan (D), Mexican Consul Vicente Sanchez Ventura and Michigan State Senator Bert Johnson (D-Highland Park). TASM is a non-profit organization established in 2009 to organize and promote intercultural, educational, religious, charitable, sporting and social programs.
The women’s branch of TASM also ran a bake sale with homemade Turkish delicacies and refreshments. Çelik explained that the team of 20 volunteers spent two months preparing for the event. They sent invitations to 45 ethnic groups, and next year they hope to raise the participant group numbers from 20 to 30. The program ended with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World,” with all the performers onstage waving flags.