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Students share each other's lifestyles, passions at Culture Fest

For the past year, Lucie Bodard, an 18-year-old exchange student, had the unique opportunity to learn what it was like to be an American. But on Friday night, she shared with her fellow high school students what it was like to live, eat and learn in France.

Bodard joined other students at Westminster High School Friday for the sixth annual Culture Fest. The annual event gives students the opportunity to share their lifestyles with one another, which can include everything from culture and art to recreation and activities.

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Bodard, who has been studying at Westminster High during the 2013-2014 school year, said she enjoyed having opportunity to tell people about her home country. When students and adults approached Bodard's table, she told them what it was like to live in France, educated them on her hometown in Brittany and offered them authentic French food.

"I tell them about French culture, what we do in France, what we eat in France and what we see in France," Bodard said. "It's great."

Aside from France, Russia, China, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Israel and Romania were represented at the Culture Fest. Students provided food and information about their heritages.

But, the event was about more than sharing cultures; it was a chance for students to show people their passions, according to Mary Beth Francis, an English teacher at Westminster High. Francis said organizers used the broadest definition of "culture" for the event, which meant the kids could set up tables promoting their hobbies, activities and passions.

"The main goal is to build community and to help people understand one another better," Francis said. "We think if people talk to each other about what they love, then we'll be able to better understand what we love, each other and cultures."

Ashley Jones, who was dressed in a blue, silver and white sequined outfit, showed off her passion for baton twirling by performing routines in front of the school. The 15-year-old from Westminster said she had been baton twirling for 10 years, carrying on the twirling tradition from her mother.

"I like that I get to meet new people," Jones said. "I get to make friends all across the country."

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