Reflections on Friendship Festival 2018
In lieu of a traditional response paper for #5, I will reflect on the Friendship Festival of 2018 that occurred this past Sunday, April 8, in the Root Room. I will discuss my role in the planning and execution of the festival, as well as my ruminations on friendship and the festival itself afterwards.
In planning for the festival, I linked up my student organization with the Oberlin Friendship Circle. As you have so aptly stated, we have engaged in friendly relations between our two groups. Last semester, OFC helped me with my big event for the International Day of Peace. This semester, it was my time to return the favor (in the two-way, reciprocal nature of desired friendship) by helping to support and put on the Friendship Festival. My group supported the efforts financially, through transferring funds to rent out the Apollo and for paying for food for the festival. In addition, I helped support my new friends in OFC by contributing to the Allen Memorial Art Museum friendship art pamphlet, inviting new first-year members over to my house for tea and cookies, helping to decide the order of the festival, reaching out to people and groups for support, promoting the event around campus and on social media, coordinating transportation for the film director, creating the festival program, setting up before the event, retrieving and setting up the food, gaining access to the ball pit (fun idea!), and acting as the “Master of Ceremonies” for the event.
The planning process itself was a great test in friendship. We had to express care for each other in divvying up the tasks and taking on responsibilities so not one person would be saddled with all the burden. We also had to communicate all the time, so we set up ways to make that easier and more friendly. Everyone came prepared to serve in friendship with smiles and excitement, and it was one of the most upbeat event planning projects I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. Of course, it wasn’t always perfect: we constantly had to worry about the budget, ask people for more money, and share stress with each other throughout the process. However, I believe we handled the scale of this year’s Friendship Festival well! I feel much closer to other OFC members as friends after going through this experience with them.
The festival itself was a whirlwind! I think we could have coordinated about the flow of events better, and that’s something to keep in mind for next year. The general feeling of the festival was very friendly — I met many new faces and saw some familiar ones, as well. Three of my closest friends came to partake in the activities and hear me speak about PACS. It meant a lot to me that you spoke so highly of me and my work with OFC and PACS while they were in the room. It was a special moment of friendship for me: between myself and you and myself and them. The different groups we had at the tables fit perfectly within our parameters of friendship — I particularly liked Lu’s suzani project with painting. I got to bond over creating art with strangers and create new friends using bright colors and paint brushes, especially because we were finding ways to say “friendship” in many different languages.
In serving as the Master of Ceremonies, I felt like I created the fledglings of a friendship with the whole room! I tried to be open and humorous, establishing a rapport with those in attendance and also with the speakers such as City Manager Burgess and poet Meeko Israel. It was also a great experience for me to be able to express my deep love for PACS and the involvement of friendship as an institutionalized aspect of PACS at Oberlin.
In reflecting on the festival, I agree with many of my classmates that there is a lot of room to grow Friendship Festival for the future! The addition of friendly activities and free time for people to mingle around without worrying about interrupting speakers or a panel is key in order for attendees to form friendships with each other. I also think that we should include games that encourage interaction and learning about each other. Maybe it would be a good idea to have people create name tags for each other as they walk in the door — that could be the first friendly activity that we facilitate. That makes people get to know someone else and make a creative name tag for them based on what they learn about them in the first few minutes.
I truly enjoyed my time at this Friendship Festival, and I am sorry that I was not aware of it in my earlier years. I feel blessed to have been able to be a part of planning and carrying out the festival, especially with such a great role as Master of Ceremonies. I will never forget this day!