Parade of Nations gives us a time to celebrate diversity

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines diversity as the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization. It’s a word that often gets used, overused and sometimes misused.

It is also a word that can certainly be used to describe the Houghton/Hancock area. Because of the international scope of both Michigan Technological University and Finlandia University we are exposed to and influenced by a variety of cultures, each making a distinct contribution to our own. While this cultural contribution exists all year long, we take a day each September to celebrate this cultural diversity.

The Parade of Nations will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday in Hancock and proceed through downtown Houghton winding up at Dee Stadium.

Immediately following the parade, the multicultural festival features, food, music and more from the more than 50 countries participating.

But more than a day of parades, food and fun, the events of Saturday will give all of us an opportunity to meet and get to know the young people from far away who are now our neighbors.

What is even more impressive than the sharing of other cultures is the unabashed joy which these students exhibit as they share the culture of their homes.

Each day the news reflects stories of one group’s hatred of another and their attempts to annihilate them. But the reality is when countries or factions fight, it is real people who do the fighting and the dying.

Events such as the Parade of Nations and accompanying festival put faces behind the flags. This is a rare opportunity, one that few communities of our size ever get. We encourage everyone to participate in Saturday’s events and embrace and cherish what diversity is all about.