New leaders of Tibetan and Italian prepare for FON 2023

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Unlike last year, this year’s Festival of Nations (FON) will include performances highlighting Tibetan and Italian traditions. 

Tibetan FON debuted this year with a “beautiful style of dancing that involves heavy hand and foot coordination,” said FON leader and junior Tenzin Chemi. With the goal of exposing the THHS community to Tibetan culture and reflecting on her experience, Tenzin said, “I started performing Tibetan dance when I was in the fifth grade – having a Tibetan FON would be enjoyable for all students at Townsend Harris.”

Sophomore Hailey Phuntsok, a member of Tibetan FON, said “I chose this FON since I’m half Tibetan, and I really wanted to try out Tibetan dancing [to] be in touch with [my] culture.”

Italian FON returned this year with similar sentiments from the leader. Junior leader Gabriella Renzi said “my sister led this FON when she was a senior and there aren’t many European FONs. I figured it would be good for representation.” 

Due to the lack of awareness of the FONs and less engagement, it made the beginning process more difficult for the leaders. “We had to choose a song, prepare the choreography in a short amount of time, and start fundraising right away,” Tenzin said. 

“Choreographing was harder than I expected, but I’m glad I had the 2020 Italian FON as a model to look at,” Gabriella said. 

Although the leaders faced difficulties in choreographing and increasing awareness of their FON, many appreciate the new additions. Junior Katherine Reyes, a member of Tibetan FON said, “I like how rhythmic the footwork is – hearing the beats of 10 or 20 people in perfect synchrony sounded super cool and satisfying to me.”

Looking towards the show on March 10, Gabriella said, “I’m excited but nervous. It’s crazy to think I’m leading such a big group, but I’m happy I’m doing it with my friends.”