Believe it or not, but I learned about traditions and cultures of several dozens nations after taking just one walk in Grodno than during all my foreign trips altogether. The feast gathered representatives of 25 diasporas. Many guests visit the festival on a regular basis (they started 12 years ago, when the first festival of the kind took place), but there were plenty of newcomers this time. The Belarusian Frenchwoman Jeanne Basova is one of them.
— My parents did not settle down here in Belarus back in Napoleonic times, it happened much later, Jeanne tells me seeing me draw some historic conclusions. — It was my great-granddad that was taken away by all this communist stuff and came to the Soviet Union right after it was established in order to help develop the young communist nation. I have never been to France, I learned French at school and know something about my true motherland from schoolbooks. But I hope I will see it with my own eyes.
The most experienced participants in the festival are the members of the Association of Belarusian Koreans. The head of the delegation to Grodno, Marina Dubko-Pak, believes Belarus is a perfect place to keep the main characteristic feature of any Oriental nation — calmness.
— Koreans appeared in Belarus not so long ago: our parents came to Belarus from Russia’s Sakhalin, where they had been moved after the Russian-Japanese war. They were looking for better life, and they found it: we get married to Belarusians, our children forget our language, but we all remain Koreans, calm and obedient. This is our mentality. Besides, we are surrounded by peaceful, reasonable and law-abiding people.”
There were representatives of the nations that survived genocide. Gypsy Kazimir Kasperovich recollects with tears that after Nazis shot the whole gypsy camp, only his mother managed to survive. “It happened near Oshmyany. Nazis were shooting everyone — men, women, the elderly and kids. My mom was only 12 years of age then, and fascists thought she was dead. When they left, Belarusian peasants came to the site to look for survivors and found my mother. They cured her and adopted her, although they had their own children. She it 76 now. I am so grateful to the Belarusian nation and I loathe fascism.”
… The Grand-Prix of the festival went to the winner of the national pop song contest, Valery Avanisyan, a representative of the Armenian diaspora and the head of the Novaya Guta pop song studio “Sozh Star”. The amateur film “To Remember Us” shot by the Grodno association of Lithuanians “Tevine” got a special prize of the festival. As for the contest of national cuisines, Belarus was the winner with its smoked meat, soft-salted cucumbers and honey drinks.
by Katerina Charovskaya