By FANNY PINHEIRO Correspondent
MANATEE COUNTY – More than 1,000 people are expected to celebrate cultural diversity Friday evening with food, music and dance at a festival put on by the Manatee Technical Institute and Farmworker Education and Services Program.
What: 13th Annual Multicultural Festival
When: Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Manatee Technical Institute New Main campus at 6305 State Road 70 East, Bradenton, FL 34203.
Cost: Admission is free
The 13th Annual Multicultural Festival will take place at MTI’s new main campus, where attendees will also get to tour the school’s new 210,000-square-foot building and learn more about career opportunities.
The free festival runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“The first festival happened in 1998 with the goal of celebrating the multicultural heritage of all our students,” said Esperanza Gamboa, coordinator of the Farmworker Education Program. “All the proceeds from this event will benefit the emergency scholarship fund for the Farmworker Education Program.”
The program provides service and support to help farmworkers and their families in their schooling.
Maria Cristina Cobos, 17, who is studying clinical administration, said the program has helped her to compete in the work environment.
“My parents are farmworkers and I was a high school student when I entered this program, and I cannot imagine my life without it,” she said. “I want to be able to find a good job and go to the college.”
Cristian Garcia, 19, whose parents are also farmworkers, changed the path of his life when he started this program last year.
“Before, I dropped out of school and I had no job. Without this program I would be on the wrong path,” he said. “Now, I am trying to make my future better. I am studying to become a barber and I plan on opening my own barber shop.”
The Multicultural Festival at MTI is a singular occasion to discover the Hispanic and South America culture and at the same time help students from the Farmworker Education Program.
“Every year, there is something new and different at the festival,” Gamboa said. “This year, we have three live bands, a Brazilian performance and a fashion show that will add to the mix.”