Locals experience world at Multicultural Festival | NevadaAppeal.com

Locals experience world at Multicultural Festival

PETER THOMPSON
Appeal Staff Writer

Ralph Seiler, left, and Grandmaster Chi hold a wooden board while 14-year-old, second-degree black belt Dennis Seiler splits the piece in half during the Multicultural Festival at Western Nevada Community College on Saturday. BRAD HORN/ NEVADA APPEAL

Three of Grandmaster Chi’s tae kwon do students knelt in a row on the lawn of the Bristlecone Building at Western Nevada Community College and covered the backs of their heads with their hands as though performing a civil defense drill.

Ralph Seiler and Grandmaster Chi held up a wooden board behind them. With a two-step start, second-degree black belt Dennis Seiler, 14, leaped over his classmates like a video-game character and snapped the board with his foot.

The exhibition was part of WNCC’s annual Multicultural Festival held Saturday.

Seiler says he’s been taking tae kwan do since he was about 5. “I like fighting,” he said confidently but casually.

Grandmaster Chi, an eighth-degree black belt, has been active in the sport for 50 years and has a unique approach to training.

“All of my students must learn to ballroom dance,” he said, moments after comparing a just-broken board to someone’s spinal cord.

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The former WNCC ballroom-dance instructor said there are invaluable social skills that come with learning to dance that aren’t necessarily included in learning the martial art.

“It’s a good balance,” he said.

In the food court, Bobby Singh of India Curry was busy pouring mango lassis. “We’ve sold about 500 of them since we set up this morning,” he said as a man lined up for a second glass of the sweet, orange refreshment.

The Carson Valley Chinese Cultural Dancers took the stage inside Sarah Winnemucca Hall, with students introducing themselves first in Mandarin then in English.

Volunteer Claudia Castillo-Garcia and her son, Tony, staffed the raffle ticket booth. They both agreed that turnout was great.

Castillo-Garcia said she’s been coming to the festival since it began but this was her first year working it. Still, she said, she got a chance to enjoy some of the performances, and especially liked the Belly Dancers Troupe and Danza Azteca’s traditional Mexican dancing.

Natalie Uzzle said she’s been to similar festivals all over the country, but WNCC’s is superior.

“The people here will actually sit down and talk with you about their cultures and what they’re doing ,instead of just trying to sell you a bunch of books,” she said.

As a teenage boy dressed in a traditional mariachi outfit wandered around looking for a soda, the Ohana Band prepared backstage.

The Reno, Dayton and Carson City-based ensemble plays traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music and have been together for about two years, according to percussionist Baylen Lamasa.

“We play a lot of conventions and private parties,” said Lamasa.

In the Children’s Culture Corner, 3-year-old Jessica Jensen held a paintbrush thick with a mint green mix of paint. She seemed to enjoy painting the table as much as her piece of the “cultural quilt.”

Suddenly, Jensen’s face turned red, and she started to sob. No wonder – with so many activity choices and cultures to taste, picking just one probably seemed a little overwhelming to many.

n Contact reporter Peter Thompson at pthompson@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.

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