Music, dancing and the flavors of the world brightened a cloudy day March 24, as International Education Day brought a downtown tradition to North Campus for the first time.
More than 30 students represented 15 countries at the exhibit–Brazil, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Americas, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Vietnam in Asia, Italy and Romania in Europe, and Kenya in Africa.
International Education Day has been celebrated each fall at Downtown Campus for well over a decade, according to North Campus student engagement coordinator Kerry Roth. There, it’s become a popular and educational tradition. “You can see all of these cultures on display,” said Roth. “We have students that are representing these cultures and they can tell you from firsthand experience what it’s like to come from their country.”
The event has become so successful that North Campus Student Government Association representative Evelyn Coney led a drive to start a similar celebration at North Campus. Anna Marie Siegel, director of international student services, worked with her to coordinate the event. “She had seen it and wanted to bring something similar to North Campus,” said Siegel. “So she contacted me, we gathered some students that were available and here we are.”
While enjoying a Latin-inspired light lunch with rice, black beans and chicken, students listened to diverse musical selections and toured informational booths that showcased countries’ culture and daily life.
Yosa Castro, representing the Dominican Republic, opened the festivities with a demonstration of traditional dance from the Caribbean nation. “I like it because it’s one day where we can show our culture and where we come from,” said Castro.
Baskets from Mexico, jewelry from Bangladesh and carved wooden animals from Kenya helped to bring some of that culture to life. Then there were the distinctive national costumes, ranging from Castro’s bright red, white and blue dress to the flashy Carnival outfits of the Virgin Islands to the multicolored clothes of Bangladesh’s Nadia Esha.
For Siegel, the chance for students to learn about ways of life around the world and broaden their horizons makes International Education Day special. “I hope that whether you’re a student who is American or you’re a student from another country that you’re able to take away something in terms of the culture and the history of each of the countries,” she said.