This year’s Lotus Blossoms has come and gone, leaving indelible images of Indiana kids at moments of marvelous discovery: drumming with an Ivory Coast musician; watching Indian dancers tell stories with exquisite gestures; stomping feet to Quebecois rhythms. For many students who attended Lotus Blossoms events, this is Lotus, their very own festival, delivered to their doorstep.

“Lotus Blossoms programming brings a broad cultural array of talent to Bloomington that gives our students a glimpse of cultures that may be thousands of miles away. Through music, dance, and story, our students also get a glimpse of how much we have in common. It is a program that opens our understanding and acceptance of others and provides common ground for interest and friendship to develop.”
—Principal Brenda Whitaker, Edgewood Primary School

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Young drummersBlossoms came early this year, filling February and March with educational outreach events in our part of Indiana. Dodging snow days and ISTEP testing, we reached nearly 7,000 people with school programs and free public events, stoking children’s curiosity about our world – its rich cultures and diverse populations, and its dynamic music, dance, songs, and stories.

While snow accumulated outside classrooms, students at 14 different schools, in five counties, were taken to far-away lands with performances by Kalapriya, an Indian dance troupe; Sogbety Diomande, a drummer from the Ivory Coast; and Genticorum, a traditional folk trio from Quebec. Lotus Blossoms also offered events at the Boys and Girls Club, the Mathers Museum, Monroe County Public Library, Stone Belt, the Northwest YMCA, and during an IU Ethnomusicology class.
Activities table at the BazaarBinford Elementary hosted the Lotus Blossoms World Bazaar again. For two days, more than 30 presenters volunteered their time to offer arts, music, language, and crafts that allowed children and their teachers and families to participate in hands-on activities representing a broad range of international cultures. This year’s Bazaar was one of our biggest ever, attended by 17 Bloomington elementary schools – the largest participation to date.

Lotus Blossoms is made possible with the support of our presenting sponsor, the Raymond Foundation, and other generous sponsors and individual donors. The Lotus Blossoms Adopt-a-School initiative, supported by over 90 donors and giving groups in the Bloomington community, was crucial in providing support to take our international artists into schools with limited budgets. Big thanks go out, as well, to the many volunteers who served as artist liaisons in schools and helped staff the Bazaar.
Swahili table at the BazaarTo find out how to bring Lotus Blossoms to your school or organization, contact Outreach Director Loraine Martin (loraine [at] lotusfest {dot} org); to help support Lotus Blossoms outreach, contact Development Director Kristin Varella (kristin [at] lotusfest {dot} org); call the Lotus office at (812) 336-6599.

 To see more “postcards” from Lotus Blossoms, visit our Facebook page and browse images from the Bazaar and Lotus Blossoms in schools. Photo credits (this page, from top): Sogbety Diomande at Harmony School, photo by Jeremy Hogan; students drumming at Harmony School, photo by Jeremy Hogan; an IU Outreach activity table at the Lotus Blossoms World Bazaar, photo by Garrett Poortinga; the Swahili language booth at the Bazaar, photo by Garrett Poortinga; Genticorum visits Bloomington Montessori, photo by Jeremy Hogan.