Cultures around the world were celebrated Oct. 8 as thousands of visitors gathered alongside local elected officials, civic groups, and sponsors at Irvine’s 21st Global Village Festival.
Over 170 booths occupied Irvine’s Great Park where the festival highlighted local artists, restaurants and entertainers through global cuisine, music and dance performances, art exhibitions, and more.
“We are pleased to hold a small celebration that brings more than 50 cultures together to share the sights, sounds, and tastes of Irvine,” Mayor Farrah Khan said in an opening statement at the event.
Ashley Furukawa, a teacher at the Goshen Kai Karate school which had a booth, demonstrated self-defense techniques to visitors. The school teaches students traditional Goju Ryu Karate.
“We teach from four all the way up to adults in basic self-defense techniques like classic Karate,” she told The Epoch Times.
Dance groups from the Orange County-based Dhwani Dance Academy, which teaches Indian dance—including Bollywood style—to those ages 4 and up, performed.
Hiral Joshi, director of the academy, said he loves coming to the festival and plans to return for many years to come.
“We are always looking forward to this festival every year, so we’ll definitely be here next year to rock the stage,” Joshi told The Epoch Times.
Additionally, a booth decorated in colorful lotus flowers was positioned next to a TV screen showing demonstrations of the Chinese spiritual practice Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, which teaches self-improvement through its teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, accompanied by gentle exercises.
One woman who said she has practiced the meditation for 13 years said her back was healed through the discipline and she avoided surgery as a result.
“My health is restored completely. I am almost at the age of retirement, but I feel like I am only 30 years of age,” Marie-Paul Baxiu told The Epoch Times.
Christine Connor, who said she has practiced for 11 years, also said the meditation has helped her.
“It changes how you think and how you live because you live with a more compassionate heart. And you’re always trying to improve yourself and be a better person,” she told The Epoch Times.
Also on hand at the festival were Persian arts and crafts next to an Iranian culture exhibit.
Nicole, who did not provide her last name, an Iranian Immigrant representing the booth, said her group usually participates in the event every year but was refraining from dancing because of events currently taking place in Iran, regarding the murder of a 22-year-old woman who refused to wear her hijab.
A festival attendee, who only wanted to be referred to as Ms. Qian, said she came with several others to raise awareness of the issue, which has sparked protests across the world.
“People are on the streets demanding justice for this young girl,” Qian told The Epoch Times. “We’re here to raise awareness and ask people to help us be their voice.”
At another booth, Sekip Surget, who is of Turkish descent, introduced attendees to all things Turkish, including porcelain making, auspicious pendants, and tableware used for traditional dinners.
Surget also spoke about how Turkey’s location between Asia and Europe allowed it to become one of the best places in the world for food.
“Everyone who comes and stays there would leave something,” he told The Epoch Times. “That’s why … we have a very rich culture for foods.”
Also on hand was Ryan Hickman, a 13-year-old who was nominated for Time Magazine Kid of the Year in 2020 for creating a recycling business, was also in attendance.
The boy’s company, called Ryan’s Recycling, allows Orange County residents to receive payment for their recycled products, through a mobile pick-up process.
Hickman and his father were also instrumental in implementing Irvine’s first pilot program that allows residents to receive payment on recycles bottles from home.
Another booth was manned by Brian S. Probolsky, CEO of the Orange County Power Authority, which was formed in 2020 as an independent, not-for-profit energy provider emphasizing “green power,” as an alternate to Southern California Edison and that offers plans up to 100 percent renewable for businesses and residents to choose from.
“My recommendation for the people is to stay with 100 percent renewable … and we will do the most for the world,” he told The Epoch Times.
Representatives from the consulates of Bulgaria, Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Qatar, Turkey, and Switzerland were also in attendance at the event.
CA State Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine), Assemblymembers Steven Choi (D-Irvine) and Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine), Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Donald Wagner, and Irvine City Councilors also attended.
Epoch Times reporter Mei Li contributed to this report.