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February 5, 2001

Calvin Presents Rangeela

Rangeela is a Hindi word that means colorful. And so it is an apt name for the combination of dance, music and drama put on each year by international students at Calvin College. At Rangeela audiences are treated to not only vivid costumes and creative acts, but also a diversity of cultures, a colorful slice of Calvin College life.

Rangeela (the G is hard) was first presented in 1996, for free, before an audience of about 500. It since has grown in popularity to the point where last year over 1,000 tickets, at $3 each, were sold out a week prior to the performance.

"It's without a doubt the most successful thing that international students have done to make themselves visible at Calvin, " says International Student Advisor Linda Bosch. "I'm just astounded at the sell-out crowds that come and the great audience response and support during the show. "

"The challenge," says student director Lucas Mwamuye, a native of Kenya, "is to produce a creative product which is both entertaining and informing. But it's always interesting to work with people from different backgrounds and getting to know and appreciate the richness and beauty of different cultures and nationalities."

International students tackle this challenge with gusto, practicing for months in advance of the final show. Their hard work (and that of the North American students who regularly participate, performing dances or songs they have learned during semesters abroad) will pay off on Saturday, February 24 at 8 p.m. when Rangeela comes to a packed Fine Arts Center Auditorium (with its capacity of almost 1,100).

This year's lineup will include singing and dancing, as well as other demonstrations, representing such countries as Eritrea, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya and Korea. Calvin has 182 international students from 53 countries, everything from Australia to Zimbabwe. That does not include Calvin's approximately 200 Canadian students.

Calvin junior Dae-Keun Chung is part of a group that will demonstrate the Korean martial art of Tae-Kwon-Do. Chung, who practices at the Moon Tiger Martial Arts Academy in Grand Rapids, says Tae-Kwon-Do is a "unique martial art with its own history as self-defense and meditation" -- not to be confused with Karate or Kung-fu. Chung's group hopes to "invite the audience into the Tae-Kwon-Do spirit and the Korean culture." Says Chung: "Rangeela is a good opportunity to share cultures and realize that there is something we can learn from each other."

Negasi Tewoldemedhin, who has been participating in Rangeela for the last three years, is going to sing and accompany himself on an Eritrean instrument called a Krar. "This year I am going to sing a song called Hagery, which means my country," he says. A soldier wrote the song at the time when Ethiopia invaded Eritrea. "I want to share my country's culture and history with the Calvin community and others," says Tewoldemedhin. "I am sure that many of them have never heard of Eritrea or the Krar."

Profits from Rangeela, tickets are just $5, are used to defray production costs and to provide scholarships for international students who wish to participate in Calvin's Service Learning Center's Spring Break trips.

--written by media relations writer Abe Huyser-Honig (class of 2004)

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Contact Phil de Haan.