On April 2 and 3, Bethel hosted the first annual Intercultural Festival. The festival began with the International Chapel and followed up with several events over the course of two days.
“This is not only important to me but to Bethel as well,” said Gonzalez. “The Kingdom of God is a diverse one and we want to celebrate that. We want students to be able to experience a taste of other cultures and we want our students that come from other cultures to feel welcomed here at Bethel.” On Tuesday, April 3, the festival featured a Heritage Meal in the Dining Commons from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The menu consisted of foods brought in by faculty and staff, including fried plantains from Puerto Rico and egg rolls made by Vicky Warkentien, professor of music. Sodexo also provided a traditional African American meal for students. There was also the Village Trust Silent Auction slotted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday. “The items being auctioned off included hand crafted items made by the women of the Village Trust in Kenya and items made by various staff, faculty and students as well,” said Gonzalez. “We (had prizes) like ‘Honorary coach for a day’ or even a guided tour of the Art Museum in Chicago, plus dinner for four with professor Christopher Stakowicz (department chair of visual art) and other unique things. The money will go to the work of the Village Trust in Salgaa, Kenya to rehabilitate the lives of the women and children who have been victimized by the local sex trade.” After enjoying a meal in the Dining Commons and visiting the Silent Auction, students were welcome to attend a free gospel concert and fashion show from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. From Chapel on Monday to the various Intercultural Festival activities on Tuesday, Gonzalez believed students would gain insight and a deeper appreciation for various cultures. “Students will have a chance to support their peers and have a blast at the same time,” said Gonzalez. “Our hope is that they would come and experience something they have never experienced before from another culture.” According to Resident Director Alex Gonzalez, faculty, staff and students were involved in the creation of this event. The four coordinators included Gonzalez, Professor Cristian Mihut, Staff Member Lisa Malkewicz and International Students Coordinator Lori Gonzalez.