I spent this Saturday volunteering at the Chehalem Cultural Center during their Camellia Festival, a celebration of Asian and Pacific Rim arts and culture. I’d never been to a festival at the Center before, so I had no expectations beyond a lot of work. But, I had a great time—there were a lot of wonderful performances, and even though I got stuck teaching origami to small children (aaaaahhhhh!), I ended the day with a feeling of immense satisfaction. I loved the feeling I got from connecting people with the world of the arts.
The best part of the day for me was a performance by the Monmouth Taiko Drummers. I’d never experienced this form of Japanese music, and it was amazing; I could feel the throbbing rhythm of the drums pounding in my chest like a second heartbeat, and the performers had such good chemistry—both with each other and with the crowd. Their half hour set was an electric experience that held even the toddlers in the audience enthralled. You could see in the drummers’ faces, in the long strokes of their arms, and in their bounding steps that they loved what they were doing, and the passion was infectious.
It was the perfect close to a day full of good food (Hawaiian Kahlua pork. Mmmm.), funny moments (finding a way to create a dinosaur out of origami for a very specific nine-year-old boy), and beautiful details (I had no idea there were so many varieties of Camellia. Who knew?). I feel honored to help create this beautiful, holistic environment where so many different people can engage with each other across cultures.