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November 14, 2015: A Tour of Asia

The continuous parade of brightly colored costumes lasted five hours, from noon until 5 p.m. At times, performers danced onto the Karshner Center stage as the previous performers were dancing off. The non-stop celebration of Asian culture and arts attracted many from the Puyallup community and beyond.

Sponsored by the Puyallup School District and hosted at the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts, the Tour of Asia and Pacific was the first of three free family festivals to be held during the 2017-18 school year.

great hall dancersNow in its third year, the annual Culture & Arts series draws visitors to a unique venue owned and operated by the school district. Warm and inviting, the Karshner Center’s Great Hall was brilliantly lit and filled with an eager audience whose composition changed slightly with each passing hour.

Thanks to a partnership with Tacoma’s Asia Pacific Culture Center, the Tour of Asia and Pacific wowed visitors with an afternoon of authentic dance, music, and costumes.

pacific island dancers

Poerava, an all-female Polynesian dance groups featured girls and women of all ages. Relying soley on the traditions and authenticity of their Pacific Island roots, performers instill the ways of respect, loyalty, and the spirit of their ancestors through dance. The youngest dancers stole the hearts of the audience performing beautifully and elegantly.


The traditional Korean performing arts group Oolleemm ensured that the entire neighborhood knew of their performance. The sound of drums, chimes, gongs, and cymbals filled the museum and spilled outdoors. Those waiting in line at the food vendor selling Asian snacks could enjoy the music while eating their lunch.

martial artistsMartial artists from Okinawa demonstrated karate, the classical Cambodian group Khemarak Samaki kept audience members entertained while others spent time creating in a nearby classroom.

Arts activities included calligraphy and clay art (making elephants) from Thailand, paper folding from China, wood carvings from the Marshall Islands of Pohnpei, and more. The classroom buzzed with creativity all afternoon and young learners went home with arms full of their crafts.

The final performance of the day was LeLumana’l OFederal Way Samoa, and Samoan group made up of students from Federal Way High School. Through this group, students learn to understand and embrace their Polynesian heritage through dance, arts, and mentorship. The performers were most successful in engaging audience members with their lively dance, broad smiles, and energy.

The Puyallup School District maintains a strong tradition of promoting cultural competency. Through the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts the district enhances cultural awareness in a way unlike any other school district.