People, traditions celebrated at multicultural festival – The San Diego Union-Tribune

From African headwraps and Indian saris for sale, to performances by Japanese drummers, Zydeco musicians and a Native American pow wow, cultural diversity was on display in downtown San Diego Saturday.

Under sunny skies, locals and tourists alike turned out for the 20th Annual San Diego Multicultural Festival, designed to showcase diversity and heritage.

“Our goal with the festival is to create engagement so that people of different cultures can come together and understand each other and appreciate each other,” said event organizer Cynthia James-Price.

The festival was hosted by the San Diego Alpha Foundation Inc. in partnership with others, including the Port of San Diego, Commission for Arts and Culture, the World Beat Cultural Center and Pazzaz, according to the event website.

Aside from performances, the free festival at Ruocco Park next to Seaport Village also featured about three-dozen vendors, including Mario Moreno’s booth specializing in Mesoamerican-inspired jewelry and clothing.

“When you have a connection with culture, it grows your roots to stand on,” Moreno said. “Everybody has their own traditions — to connect with them is a beautiful part of the human experience.”

Cathy Ryba, a Wisconsin resident staying at a hotel across from the park, stopped by with her son and his family, visiting her from Orange County.

“We are a culture of nations,” Ryba said. “It’s what built us. It’s our heritage.”

Ryba said she has hosted foreign exchange students from around the world, including Germany, Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Hong Kong, and was in town for a convention related to hosting foreign students.

Some attendees were aware of President Donald Trump’s reported comments last week, disparaging certain nations as “s***hole countries.”

Celebrations of different cultures are “important now more than ever because there is so much rhetoric that is not kind about other people,” James-Price said.

Vanessa Munyendamutsa, who came to the United States last year, said she has found that America “is a mix of everything.”

The 23-year-old was born in Rwanda. She and her family moved to a few African countries before they settled in France when she was six. She speaks English, French and a dialect of Swahili.

Munyendamutsa, who was at a booth selling clothing and more imported from West Africa, said celebrations of multiculturalism “remind people that there is so much difference — and that is what is beautiful.”

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