Rumblings of racial unrest may be taking place in other parts of the country, but in Rolla on Saturday, nations of the world came together in a happy celebration of fellowship and unity. The eighth annual MS&T Celebration of Nations began with a parade at 11:00 am. Starting at the MS&T campus, the parade wove through the streets of downtown Rolla, with curator Maurice Graham and Edna Mae Graham as Honorary Grand Marshals.  Led by a Color Guard, the throngs of parade-goers were treated to a succession of marchers and floats representing over 80 countries.  The Miner Marching Band provided music in sharp precision, while the Kiltie Drum and Bugle Corps from Central High School in Springfield gave a lively performance. Local dancers kicked the energy level up as they boogied past, and several energetic young men tossed their partners in the air.  MS&T student inventors were showcased as they proceeded up Pine Ave. with prototypical vehicles, robotics, and recumbent bicycles; colorful Chinese dragons delighted attendees.
When the parade ended on 9th Street, the party began. The booths of approximately sixty vendors stretched for two blocks, with the Rolla Band Clamshell at the heart of the celebration. Food from around the world was available for purchase, from a German Schnitzelstrasse to a Chinese BBQ. Hispanic dishes, chicken kabobs, French crepes, and falafel sandwiches were enjoyed by the huge crowd. Beverages were plentiful and diverse; attendees enjoyed juices, ices, Turkish tea, coffee, and more. Water bottles were provided by the Rolla Rotary. Organizations, including the Peace Corps, were present to provide information. Displays from various cultures, musical instruments, and craft items for sale provided a treat for the senses.
 Delighted children fed alpacas, did arts and crafts, had their passports stamped, faces painted, and played in their own play area complete with a sand pile and bounce houses. Camel rides were offered; according to buckaroos Carty and Cooper Auten of St. James, riding the camel “was like riding a horse.” Snow cones and ice cream were popular choices among youth.
Flags, with a sign on the pole identifying the country, lined the bandstand seating area. Standing proudly next to the Philippine flag were Ian and Zarina Atienza with little daughter Jazmynn.  Ian is currently serving in the Air Force; his mother has lived in Rolla since 2002.   
According to MS&T’s Julie Phelps of the Educational Technology department, “Celebration of Nations gets bigger every year. Our students are so happy to be part of this international event.”  The enthusiasm of the students was contagious on the picture-perfect autumn day.
At 1 pm, the Celebrate Talent performances began. Nineteen acts, pre-selected by audition, entertained the assembled crowd with dance and song. Performers included groups from MS&T, the Rolla Choral Arts Society, and hula hoop acrobatics by graceful Greta. A traditional dance from Botswana was performed by smiling students who sang, danced, and blew whistles. A lively performance by Indian students got several in the audience up and dancing along. A lovely performance was given by the fusion bellydance group Na’ave Sands, including dancers from all over Missouri who practice at Rolla’s Shamrock World Dance and Movement Center.
At 3:30 pm, the parade winners were announced. Winning the Most Visually Appealing Award was the Miner Marching Band.  Best Ambassador for their country was the group representing Pakistan.  Best Traditional Representation were the South Cherokee Nation. Best overall spirit award went to KMNR, MS&T’s student radio station.  Awarded the Best Community Spirit Award: Puerto Rico, and Most Creative: Iran.  The Educational Award went to the Miner Challenge team.  Most environmentally conscious: the Mars Rover.  The Good Neighbor award was presented to Kuwait.
In the talent competition, the most unique performance award was given to the duo Catharsis Reel. The Best Vocal Performance went to Xuecheng Ye.  Best Guitarist, Mmoloki: selected as Best Group, The Indian Association. The Best Dance award was given to Sweta; and the Best Individual Performance went to Greta, from Fenton, MO.
Celebration of Nations shouldn’t be missed; how often does one get to take a trip around the world for free, without heavy luggage, unknown currency, or jet lag woes? Thanks to Missouri S&T, the world comes to Rolla, and we experience the rich cultural diversity that the university brings to our community in a unique and very memorable way.