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By Reuben Gonzales - Staff Reporter

Highline will be represented at Kent International Festival this weekend when Kent and South King County residents celebrate their cultural diversity.   Students from International Student Program will operate a cultural booth focusing on the Philippines.

"Since the festival is a celebration of the diverse cultures of Kent and the surrounding area, it will help that Highline's students reflect that great diversity and express a natural partnership with other communities," said Eva Engelhard, program manager of ISP.   The diverse and growing festival is undertaken by one of the four committees of the Kent Sister Cities Association and showcases folk music and dance performances, native clothings, authentic cuisine and cultural booths of different ethnic groups.      The festival will begin at 9:30 a.m. and run until 8 p.m. at the accesso ShoWare Center on Saturday, June 2. It will offer a wide range of activities and both admission and parking are free.    There are three main stages for musical and dance performances throughout the day: the Arena Stage, the Concourse Stage and the Plaza Stage.     "We have a total of 68 booths, of which 16 are Cultural Passport booths and the rest of them are the Information Service booths and Cultural Retail booths," said Nancy Skipton, director of this year's Kent International Festival.     Skipton said that the number of the cultural booths is unchanged from last year but KIF has expanded the number of the information service booths.   Passport Cultural booths offer a chance to travel the world via interactive in activities to introduce native cultures. Each booth will include posters, artifacts, textiles and fact sheets to share with participants.      Cultural booths will be located on the Concourse and outside on the Plaza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Attendees who collect stamps from all the booths on a passport and then vote for the best Passport Cultural Booth will receive a prize from Kent's Information Booth.      For the first time, one of the Cultural Passport Booths will have a Highline connection.

"We also have a cultural passport booth that's being done by Highline College and that is going to represent the country of the Philippines," Skipton said.

The Philippines Cultural Booth will be organized by approximately six students and set up from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Outside on the Plaza there will be a large variety of booths for people to visit which will sell ethnic and cultural items from around the world. 

There also will be a World Wide Walk, an Art Exhibition and the International Taste of Kent Food Court booths.

The World Wide Walk will kick off the festival at 9:30 a.m. with a walk from Town Square Plaza to ShoWare Center. Participants will wear traditional clothing and show off their cultural heritage during a half-mile walk.  This year the Art Exhibition will have a special activity for attendees where they can create their own art. The Kent Community Foundation will work with students and art teachers from Kent School District to express the theme "Learning from Each Other".      For those who get hungry, local restaurants in the Kent area, including Fil Thai Chili, Olive Tree Mediterranean Restaurant and more, will provide guests with ethnic cuisine to celebrate cultural food diversity in The Taste of Kent Food Court. The court will open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.    Skipton said that one of the new things happening this year is a recycling event by a group volunteers.

"They're going to collect recyclables like plastic bottles," Skipton said. "They're doing it as a fundraiser to help the people of South Sudan."

As the Kent International Festival turns 10 years old, Skipton says she believes the festival is going strong.

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