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Around the world in one hour

Scott Jacobson / sjacobson@postbulletin.com Ramona Swenson and Lavona Johnson tell Ulugbek Jamaev about Lefsa as he prepares a piece during the second annual Taste of Nations Saturday morning April 16, 2011 at Oak Park Mall in Austin, Minn. Ulugbek is a foreign exchange student from Uzbekistan attend Riverland Community College and he says lefsa is pretty good as he took his first bite... ever.

If you were in the mood for good food and music on Saturday, then Oak Park Mall in Austin was the place to be.

Last year, the Taste of Nations and the Week of the Young Child events were held on separate weekends, but organizers thought it would be a benefit to hold the events together this year, and it seemed to be working on Saturday.

More than 40 groups and organizations had information or food available, at no charge, for the public to enjoy.

The event was hosted by Austin's Welcome Center, Human Rights Commission, Austin Public Schools, Help Me Grow, Riverland Community College and US Bank.

Kristi Beckman, integration coordinator for Austin Public Schools and one of the event organizers said, "All of these different cultures are represented here today because they each have something to contribute to make Austin a better place."


Jake Vela, Welcome Center executive director, said, "This event is an opportunity for those in our community to meet new people and learn about traditions, and what better way to do that than to enjoy a variety of foods together."

Becky Tennis Hanson, an early childhood special education teacher and occupational therapist at the Community Learning Center in Austin, helped organize the Week of the Young Child portion of the event. She said she was glad to see such a large turnout.

Throughout the afternoon, there were pre-school activities, and area pre-schools offered information about their programs.

Blanca Vela said she enjoyed the event because everyone was united as one, and she enjoyed learning more about the countries of Bolivia and Norway.

As she reflected on the variety of information available throughout the afternoon, Leann Vela said, "I feel like I traveled around the world in one hour."

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