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Wales in Washington

20 June 2009

The Smithsonian Folklife FestivalThe Smithsonian Folklife Festival Photograph by Jeff Tinsley of the Smithsonian Institution

Cardiff University will fly the flag for Wales in the US, helping represent the nation’s diversity, innovation and rich culture at an internationally renowned festival in the American capital.

Taking place from the 24 – 28 June and 1 – 5 July, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held on the National Mall in Washington, is an annual event celebrating the cultural traditions of communities from across the United States and around the world.

This year (2009) Wales will be the featured nation and Cardiff has the biggest presence of any Welsh university on the mall. Its showcased research includes the Welsh School of Architecture’s sustainable housing project Ty Unnos (a house in one night) and fieldwork by the School of Welsh into Welsh culture in Patagonia.

Cardiff experts are also involved in a number of additional activities such as a lecture series organised by the Centre for Alternative Technology in Mid-Wales and events in association with the Welsh Assembly Government.

One of the highlights of the festival is a film about microscopic deep-sea ocean fossils recovered by Professor Paul Pearson of the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences in a drilling programme in Tanzania and Indonesia.

The fossils are created when tiny single-celled, ocean dwelling creatures (similar to algae) called forams die. They have been turned into 3D images with the help of artist Catherine Watling.

The film will not only reveal these unusual and beautiful pictures, but will document Professor Pearson’s research explaining the importance of such fossils in providing information about the history of climate change.

Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant said: "The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an important opportunity for the University to represent Wales internationally, and to highlight our innovative world-leading research to millions of people. Our presence in Washington, as Wales’ leading university, will contribute to a programme of events designed to present the very best of the nation to America."

The University already has strong links with America, including a student exchange agreement between the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Ivy League University, Pennsylvania; and a number of joint projects running with the National Institutes of Health, one of the world's foremost medical research centres.

Cardiff’s international reputation for teaching and research excellence, coupled with recent high profile achievements such as the award of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine to Cardiff’s Professor Sir Martin Evans, has led to a rise in American interest in working with Cardiff. Recent trips stateside, including Wales Week 2009, have increased the University's links with the US and are aimed at achieving greater prominence with the American public, influencers and institutions.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is internationally renowned and attracts more than one million visitors each year. Now in its 43rd year, the Festival is free and enables visitors to participate and learn through a programme that includes music, song and dance, lectures, celebratory performance, crafts and cooking demonstrations and storytelling.

Full details of the University’s involvement in the Festival can be found here.

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