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New Life Academy's Chinese Festival, held April 29-30 at the school, featured a dragon dance. The festival included food samples, face painting, temporary tattoos, Chinese character lessons, speaking practice and a video.
New Life Academy's Chinese Festival, held April 29-30 at the school, featured a dragon dance. The festival included food samples, face painting, temporary tattoos, Chinese character lessons, speaking practice and a video.

NLA holds Chinese Festival, Festival of Nations

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news Woodbury, 55125

Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

New Life Academy took a tour around the world last week.

The school's International Club hosted both a Chinese Festival and a Festival of Nations early last week.

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The Chinese Festival, held April 29-30, included food samples, face painting, temporary tattoos, Chinese character lessons, speaking practice, a dragon dance and a video.

The Festival of Nations, which took place May 1 during the school's weekly chapel, included a video explaining International Club and its members, a testimony from the school's international students and a chapel song sung in Korean.

"It's bringing worlds together," said International Club adviser Inna Collier. "The nations are right here, why not explore it?"

Collier, the school's guidance counselor, said she decided to start International Club last spring after seeing how many international students at the school were struggling to belong.

"There was a need to bring all these people together and for us to actually celebrate their culture," she said. "They need to have some sort of help so they are included here."

Collier, who is originally from Ukraine, knows first hand how difficult it can be to come to a new school and a new country.

"I want people to understand how difficult it is to leave a country," she said. "I want people to realize that many of them were forced by their parents to come here. They had to leave a lot behind."

NLA's International Club currently has 24 members from around the world including China, Vietnam, South Korea, Mongolia, Honduras, Switzerland, South Africa and even three from the United States.

"As long as you love cultures and want to explore other countries you are welcome," Collier said.

International Club meets every Wednesday after school and participates in a variety of activities such as celebrating holidays, celebrating birthdays and cultural presentations.

"International Club's purpose is so that students feel included and free to express themselves," Collier said. "But at the same time, they learn how to adjust to this culture.

"They learn how to highlight their culture the best way and be the best representative."

This is the first year International Club has hosted a cultural festival, and this year the group decided on China because there are a high number of club members who are Chinese, Collier said.

"It forces students to learn more about each other," she said. "It even brings the International Club students together because there are some big differences between China and Korea."

Collier said her goal for International Club is to hold cultural festivals for all of the countries represented at NLA.

"I'm looking forward to how it will develop in the future," she said.

Collier said she hopes International Club continues to grow because she has seen the international students becoming more a part of NLA.

"I've seen students breaking those stereotypes down," she said. "They feel more adjusted.

"At first, the international students would split off into individual groups, but now they're mingling with American students too."

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