By Rebecca Rose
Killeen Daily Herald
Diversity was the theme of the day Saturday, as hundreds of people gathered for the 17th annual International Festival, celebrating cultures from across the globe.
Held at the Killeen Community Center and hosted by Killeen Sister Cities Inc., the event featured vendors serving food from a variety of international cuisines and a full program of traditional dances from different countries. Performances included German yodeling, Hawaiian dancing and a demonstration of tae kwon do.
Under the guidance of the Killeen City Council, KCSI formed in 1993, becoming sister cities with Osan, South Korea, in 1996. KSCI's mission is to foster and encourage mutual understanding, friendship and peace through cultural, social and educational exchange.
"Our mission is exchange," said Jan Anderson, secretary for KSCI. "Today, we are offering a venue for that exchange."
Lisa Humphreys, event organizer and president of KSCI, estimated 1,200 people attended the festivities.
"This is a day when we can get diverse groups together, for performances, to show their costumes (and) their food," Humphreys said.
Humphreys said part of the reason Osan was picked as a sister city for Killeen was because of the large Korean population in the area.
"There are a lot of Korean businesses here," she said. "Hotels, dry cleaning, restaurants. It's growing very fast.
"The best thing about today is the diversity of all the different groups of people here," Humphreys said.
One of the vendors featured a sampling of Spam musubi, a popular Japanese-influenced food from Hawaii. Made from a serving of rice and a wedge of Spam and wrapped in seaweed paper, the snack resembles sushi.
Central Texas College student Merari Esposa, 18, served samples of the dish, and said she enjoyed the opportunity to share something familiar from her culture.
"I grew up in Hawaii," she said. "People ask what it's made of and where it originated from. I love making this for other people."
Contact Rebecca Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.