Educational efforts get a boost from multicultural fair (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)


By J. NIELSEN, Correspondent

Diverse cultures were celebrated during a festive event that featured entertainment and encouraged continued education.

The 14th annual Multicultural Festival and Fashion Show was Friday evening at the new Manatee Technical Institute campus on State Road 70 East.

“This is community,” said Albino Hernandez, manager of the Grupo Eco7 band that performed free of charge at the event.

A sight to behold, dressed in red and white, his band onstage could be viewed from anywhere in the main hall thanks to projections on a large screen.

People had multiple reasons for attending — to see the building that opened in January, for bounce houses and children’s games, food and fashions — but all came to support the festival sponsors, the Farmworker Education and Services Program.

The government-funded organization assists agriculture and packing-house workers and their families through education.

“We have music from everywhere. We are celebrating all the different cultures we have in the school,” program coordinator Esperanza Gamboa said.

Entertainment included singer Andres Monray, Manatee High School ballroom dancers, Brazilian Capoeira Dancers, Texcalli Mexican Folkloric Dancers, Lel Guantanamero, Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences dancers and the Mango Latin Band.

Purabell House of Fashion organized the show of fashions with a Latino flair.

A fundraiser for the farmworker program, past festivals have raised anywhere $5,000 to $10,000 to help students with classroom needs, such as books, as well as serving as an emergency fund, Gamboa said.

In addition to the Farmworker Education and Services Program, visitors found information about a variety of career preparation and continuing education courses offered at MTI.

“We just came to have a look,” Sue Laker said.

Her family lives nearby and watched the school being built. They wanted to see for themselves new classrooms and other amenities, such as a kitchen outfitted for training chefs.

Children ran about in youthful exuberance, and people celebrated their heritage.

“It’s beautiful they do this,” Eleya Oda said as she enjoyed homemade tamales with her family and friends.

For more information about the farmworker program at Manatee Technical Institute, 6305 State Road 70 E., call 751-7947

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