This year’s Walk Around the World, hosted by the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA), will be entirely virtual.

Organizer Susan Haskamp said although the usual in-person dances and musical performances will be missed, moving the festival online allows it to encompass an entire week — Monday through Saturday.

"I think that IMAA is a leader in building bridges between cultures and sharing the diversity in our community," Haskamp said. "We can still do that through other avenues — that's the beauty of technology. ... It's just going to look a little bit different."

Beginning at the start of the week, IMAA will use its Facebook and Instagram pages to highlight nonprofit partners, present cooking demos of everything from South Indian chicken masala to Bosnian walnut-stuffed apples, and stream global dance performances.

"I'm really excited for the cooking demos," Haskamp said. "This is a new, fun thing that we've been able to do in a virtual setting. ... We don't normally do cooking demos at our in-person event."

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The 11th celebration will feature performances by Rochester community members as usual — but taped and shared online. Organizations that assist refugees will share information about their Southeast Minnesota programs, such as the Immigrant Law Center, United Community Action Partnership, Southeastern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, the Minnesota Council of Churches, and more.

The video component of the festival allows IMAA to branch out into new content.

A presentation with Rochester Health and Community Partnership will be streamed live, Haskamp said, detailing the organizations' outreach work within immigrant communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Another video (prerecorded) features stories from the children of immigrants, who'll speak on generational gaps and multicultural family life.

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In order to encourage engagement, IMAA has been ramping up its online content, Haskamp said. The goal, of course, is to raise awareness of IMAA and its partners' programming. She also hopes viewers "find joy" in the food and musical videos throughout the week.

"It's tough," she said. "We're bringing so many cultures together when we're in-person, and it's hard to transform that into a virtual environment. ... But I'm excited just to see how this new experience is going to turn out."

Follow IMAA on Facebook (@IMAARochester) and Instagram (@imaaroch) to participate in the Virtual Walk Around the World.

IMAA Walk Around the World 2019 (contributed photo)
IMAA Walk Around the World 2019 (contributed photo)

Tentative Walk Around the World Schedule


9 a.m. Kick-off video from Mayor Norton

9:30 a.m. Welcome and introduction by IMAA Executive Director Armin Budimlic

Noon IMAA partner highlight — Immigrant Law Center

4 p.m. South Indian chicken masala cooking demo

6:30 p.m. Live Facebook and Zoom presentation about IMAA and Rochester Healthy Community Partnership (RHCP) COVID-19 collaboration efforts in refugee and immigrant communities


9 a.m. Immigrant story

11 a.m. Tacos de barbacoa cooking demo

2 p.m. IMAA partner highlight — United Community Action Partnership (UCAP)

Tacos de Barbacoa, a cooking demo from Virtual Walk Around the World (contributed photo)
Tacos de Barbacoa, a cooking demo from Virtual Walk Around the World (contributed photo)


9 a.m. Bridge Builder Sponsor highlight video — Winona State University — Rochester

IMAA partner highlight — Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC)

Noon Tufahije Bosnian dessert cooking demo

3 p.m. Youth and young-adult cultural circle discussion — listen to stories of growing up in two different cultures

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9 a.m. Doro Wot cooking demo

Noon IMAA partner highlight — Southeastern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS)


9 a.m. IMAA partner highlight — Somalia Community Resettlement Services (SCRS)

1 p.m. Indian cooking demo (dish and ingredients to come)


11 a.m. Introduction and welcome by IMAA board member

Guest speaker Chief Franklin

Cultural dances, including:

Jang-mi Rochester Korean drum school

Christal Phoenix belly dancing

Celebrating India

Cambodian traditional dance

Ethiopian dance and coffee ceremony

Semi-classical dance from Northern India

Lemn Sissay, Ethiopian spoken word poet

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