Celebrating International Friendship

Written by Carol Heywood

Participation in the International Children’s Friendship Festival
led to my coming away with a true sense of hope for the future. NWLACC’s Friendship Flag project was featured at the festival and I was struck by the perfect match of these two projects.
The ICFF mission: We strive to help children around the world overcome their differences and unite in peace and harmony through fostering cultural exchange and friendship. By organizing the International Children’s Friendship Festival, TACAWA seeks to bring the positive energy of International Children’s Day to the Seattle community. (The festival was brought to life by the International Children’s Friendship Festival committee of Turkish American Cultural Association of Washington (TACAWA).)

The NWLACC Friendship Flag mission: In 2014 we began the Global Friendship Flags Art Project as a creative way to build connection between cultures, one person at a time. Each flag is an original artistic expression with the word “friend” written in many languages, created by children and adults attending our cultural events throughout the area. The popularity of the Friendship Flags project has been a testament to the excitement each individual feels when presented with an opportunity to express “let’s get along in the world, now!” and we have literally hundreds of linear feet of these flags.
Seeing those hundreds of feet of flags hanging so beautifully prominent at the Seattle’s Center’s Fisher Pavilion April 15 – 16, 2017, was truly inspiring. Participating in the opportunity for extending that chain of the diverse expressions of international friendship was a pleasure and honor.

Several times during my interaction with the children, I was literally dumbstruck by their ability to express their feelings and ideas in such a clear and eloquent manner. The talented performances were demonstrations of disciplined practice and commitment to sharing their unique cultural expression with amazing costumes, music, singing and dancing.

What moved me most was the open-hearted acceptance of both children and adults who attended the event. There truly was a prevailing feeling of Agape/Love generated by the embracing of the vast diversity with the common desire to make a difference in the world. Even young children talked about creating a more peaceful place for all by making new friends.

It felt to me like this festival was a big rock dropped in the sea of unrest and turmoil with ripples of cross-cultural understanding and peace that extend to the far-reaches of the globe. Like I said, a true sense of hope for the future.