BY GWEN SISSON
Over the years, Mississippi State University has literally brought the world to Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
And Saturday’s opening reception for the International Exhibit at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum was another reminder of the diverse cultures living in this area.
The International Exhibit features a variety of collections, clothing and other items representing as many cultures as possible, currently living in the Golden Triangle area.
Lisa Dakhlallah, organizer of the exhibit, said people have been very generous in sharing items from their home country.
When asked about what stands out in the exhibit for Dakhlallah, she is quick to point out the freeze-dried piranha from Peru.
Dakhlallah said other unique items on display included carved jade from China, a plaque of The Lord’s Prayer in Arabic, and a shofar from Israel. She said everyone also loves the traditional clothing on display.
“We are encouraging homeschoolers and school groups to stop by to see the display,” Dakhlallah said. “These items are great talking points for further discussion and research in world history.”
She shared the story of two dolls from Korea in one of the display cases that were from a Korean story, very similar to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Dakhlallah suggested students studying Shakespeare may want learn more about the Korean story.
A small silver replica of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, could also lead to a study of Art Deco. Dakhlallah said as of November, the Brazilian Art Deco statue is no longer the tallest in the world. She said the educational opportunities were limitless.
Joan Wilson, director of the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum, said this exhibit is an excellent way to showcase the variety of cultures living in this community.
“This exhibit (and the Fiesta) shows we are definitely a multi-cultural community,” Wilson said. “The world is getting smaller and we are so glad that the museum is able to highlight this expanding part of the community.”
Wilson said this exhibit is an excellent way to educate people about the other cultures within the Starkville community.
From another standpoint, many of the international residents, particularly adults, attending Saturday’s reception said they had not had the opportunity to visit the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum and was excited to learn more about the history of the community.
Nirdosh Shaunak, a native of India, played the sitar during Saturday’s reception. She said her daughter had visited the museum, but this was her first time to tour.
“This is very nice,” Shaunak said. “Everything is very good, very interesting.”
Ismet Toy, originally from Turkey, said it was interesting to see Indian artifacts and everything the museum has on display.
“It is surprising to see many of these items as historical objects,” Toy said. “It is exciting to see how they are keeping history alive.”
The International Exhibit will be on display throughout the week leading up to the International Fiesta, set for April 2 at the Drill Field on the MSU campus.
For more information about the exhibit, contact the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum at 323-0211.