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College focuses on holiday diversity

COVINGTON -- It's not even Thanksgiving yet, but Georgia Perimeter College already is getting in the holiday spirit.

The Newton Campus isn't focusing just on the popular Christmas and other American holiday traditions -- students are learning about holiday celebrations from around the world.

"Ignorance is probably the reason there is prejudice in the world today," said Salli Vargis, a Newton professor of history and honors coordinator. "I think the world is much, much smaller than it used to be. The world is here -- people from different parts of the world are here now -- and people need to be open and not prejudiced."

On Monday, the school's campus off Ga. Highway 11 will reflect worldwide holiday celebrations.

The Newton International Advisory Council is kicking off the GPC International Education Week observation with its annual event, "Holidays Around the World Celebration."

"The college is really big into internationalization, and a small group of faculty and staff are just trying to do our part," Vargis said. "Even though we have a small campus, we've got a good variety of students."

Starting at 10 a.m. Monday, the celebration will kick off in building 1N, rooms 2210 to 2230.

"We will learn about Spanish traditions at Christmas, Diwali in India, Kwanza in the African-American tradition, as well as Ramadan in the Muslim community and the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah," Vargis said.

The GPC Newton library, now in its large new setting on the third floor of the new 2N building at the Newton campus, will present a display of travel books and a competition of international travel photos taken by students, staff, faculty and administrators.

"Wonderful international foods from these celebrations will also be available" for guests to sample starting about 11:30 a.m., Vargis said.

The celebration also will include music, and event organizers plan to dress in clothes and items that represent different cultures, even ones that aren't showcased in the program.

The event is free and open to the public and should end around noon, Vargis said.

"The community is welcome. We hope they come out," she said, adding that the event is a casual celebration. "We hope to make it bigger next time, as we create more interest."