Festival of Nations
International Education Week ends with talent, fashion show
4:22 p.m., Nov. 20, 2012--A group of traditional Chinese dancers elegantly pound on drums while Russian students discuss nesting dolls. People dressed in garments from dozens of countries float around to experience culture from Turkey to Thailand.
Where is it possible to experience a collage of different cultures all at one time? It turns out the answer on Friday night, Nov. 16, was the Trabant University Center.
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International Education Week, held Nov. 12-16, culminated in the Festival of Nations on Friday evening. The event showcased a fair of countries, a talent show and a fashion show in the Multipurpose Rooms of Trabant from 5-9 p.m.
The event, which attracted more than 700, allowed international students, domestic students and members of the Newark community to interact with each other and learn more about the customs and cultures of different regions.
The Festival of Nations featured representatives from dozens of different countries. Several multicultural student associations set up colorful displays on folding tables and enthusiastically discussed their culture with other attendees.
Merna Eleias, a UD student of Egyptian descent, passed out flag stickers, explained hieroglyphics and displayed photos of Egyptian landmarks.
“International Education Week is helpful because you can learn about another language and interact with different people,” said Eleias.
Attendees could travel from Egypt to Japan in a matter of seconds and listen to Takashi Nemoto, a graduate student in the ELI program, as he explained traditional Japanese toys, calligraphy and origami.
International Education Week is an annual celebration of international programs that was started by the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Education. IEW is observed across the United States and in more than 100 countries.
At UD, IEW is a collaboration between the Office of Residence Life, the English Language Institute, the Confucius Institute and the Institute for Global Studies, with additional contributions from other offices and departments throughout campus. The Festival of Nations is sponsored and hosted by the ELI with support from the Office of Residence Life.
Scott Stevens, director of ELI, said the Festival of Nations exemplifies the continuing globalization of the UD campus.
“What thrilled me was the number of American undergraduates in attendance. I found that to be so encouraging, as it is indicative of the campus, not merely accepting, but embracing cultural diversity,” he said.
Attendees at the Festival of Nations event could also watch various demonstrations from around the globe during the International Talent Show. Talents ranged from Tai Chi, to a reenactment of a Traditional Turkish pre-wedding ceremony. The Capoeira Club performed an Afro-Brazilian martial arts demonstration and the UDance Gangnam Style flash mob made an appearance.
After the talent show wrapped up, students turned into models to put on an International Fashion Show. All students were welcome to model in the show and could wear their own clothing or attend a meeting earlier in the week to find an outfit.
Peace and understanding
While raffles and prizes were awarded, many students agreed that the real prize was the deeper understanding facilitated by the Festival of Nations and International Education Week in general.
“Events like this are important because they promote understanding and break down barriers,” said Kevin Costa, president of Club François. “If you don’t understand something, you tend to fill in the blanks yourself. If you meet other people and understand other cultures, you can fill in the blanks correctly.”
Meghan Morrow attended the festival to discuss her residency in the “i-House.” The i-House is a residence program in Squire Hall consisting of a mixture of international students and domestic students. She agreed that interacting with people from other cultures is an enlightening experience.
“It is a chance to make friends with people you might not otherwise be able too,” said Morrow about programs such as the i-House and IEW.
While Russian students Kara Martin and Dylan Lecce displayed traditional Russian Matryoshka dolls, Martin touched on another benefit of international education.
“I really believe it promotes peace.”
Article by Kelley Bregenzer
Photos by Lane McLaughlin