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August 20, 2014

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Two events at UNLV help celebrate one planet

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Sam Morris

Flowers are seen on display during GreenFest at UNLV Saturday, April 20, 2013.

2013 Green Fest

Kenny Keys jokes around with Mojave Max, the mascot for the Clark County Desert Conservation Program, while Aleks Vekic takes their photo during GreenFest at UNLV Saturday, April 20, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Within 20 yards on UNLV’s campus, visitors Saturday could learn about various cultures around the world and how to keep the world green.

UNLV hosted the annual Earth Day festival known as GreenFest and the Festival of Communities. While both were separate events, both benefited from each other.

“Visitors can now have the Festival of Communities experience and the GreenFest experience,” said Mariam Yaqub, who coordinated the Festival of Communities. “Now they just have to walk 20 yards."

At the cultural celebration, a student swayed and twirled on stage performing a Chinese classical dance about love. The air was filled with the smell of exotic foods while families munched on Nepalese foods like mumo (similar to a chicken dumpling), tacos, and festival favorites like french fries and shaved ice.

Foreign flags lined the grass and students stood at booths waiting to introduce passers-by to their country’s food or culture, or in one case, inform them that Sri Lanka is a country.

“We’re still a small community, but no one knows about Sri Lanka,” said Rakitha Perera, head of the Sri Lanka Student Association. “So we did the booth to get exposure.”

Students in the Nepal Student Association showed off authentic garb called a “haku patasi” (a black vest-like top combined with a sari skirt), food and their religion.

“This festival increases our visibility at UNLV, and encourages us to be known and interact with different people,” said Sichu Shrestha, a member of the Nepal Student Association.

At GreenFest, visitors were treated to a world of recycling and green energy. People could learn about new hybrid cars, paint canvases using recycled paint and learn about ways to be more energy efficient.

“It’s been great. We’re trying to implement this stuff more in our daily lives going green and doing stuff better for the environment,” said festivalgoer Marcelina VanMerkestein.

In between both festivals, a UNLV architecture class built a home and furniture out of recycled cardboards. Meanwhile, composting and recycling bins were placed throughout the campus, to achieve a zero-waste event, and a UNLV dining booth encouraged people to pledge to be more environmentally friendly.

UNLV student Samantha Haydock said the Earth Day event was the first fundraiser for her club, Global Water Brigades, which was raising money for a trip to Honduras to help bring clean water to areas that don’t have access to any.

In addition to the Earth Day festivities at UNLV, the Moapa Band of Paiutes -- along with health advocates, tribal representatives and leaders from the faith community completed an annual 16-mile walk to protest NV Energy’s Reid Gardner Coal Plant.

This year, the walk supported NV Energy’s decision to shut down the coal plant and the opening of the 250-megawatt solar project on Moapa Paiute Reservation.

“For far too long, the Reid Gardner Coal Plant has been poisoning our air, water and the health of our families,” Moapa Band of Paiutes Chairman William Anderson said in a statement. “NV Energy moving to close the coal plant is the result of countless families coming together to demand change.”

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