The International Festival is an annual celebration of the diverse cultural heritages of many Gusties and provides a means for students that have studied abroad to share their experiences. The Festival will be held on Friday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. in Alumni Hall.
The Festival, hosted by the International Cultures Club (ICC), consists of two main elements. First, Alumni Hall opens itself for attendees to peruse booths sponsored by student-run clubs and organizations. The booths will feature displays of various cultures and their corresponding regions of the world.
The second portion of the evening will feature food, musical acts and a talent show with educational and entertaining performances. The night culminates in a fashion show where individuals model traditional and culturally significant clothing.
ICC co-presidents Senior Joey Taylor and Junior Dasha Grishina eagerly anticipate Friday’s festivities.
“Every year I’ve looked forward to the International Festival, but especially this one. It’s an outlet for learning about new countries. You can walk around and dream about visiting different places,” Taylor said.
Taylor is not alone in his enthusiasm. He and hundreds of Gustavus students as well as people from the community make attending the festival a yearly habit to expand their cultural horizons.
“Each year is something new. The booths and the talent show are always different,” Taylor said.
“Additionally, this year we also have about 100 girl scouts from the area coming to learn about different cultures and traditions,” Grishina said.
This year’s festival highlights an increased emphasis on culturally significant food. “There’s a larger food layout,
which requires a bigger co-ordination effort,” Taylor said.
In addition to the cultural cuisine, OLAS will take the spotlight in performing a dance and a secret spectacle that is, as of yet, to be announced.
Taylor, who studied abroad in Russia last year, is particularly excited about the Russian Club’s involvement.
“This year there will be Russian choral singing. I’m really pumped,” Taylor said. “International students are able to present information about their homes, about their customs and traditions. It can spark their interest in going to study abroad in one of those countries, or just take language courses. It is an important event that celebrates diversity on this campus,” Grishina said.
Sophomore Cameron Jarvis believes the International Festival is important to broaden students’ awareness.
“It’s good to have an opportunity for students to engage with diversity of culture at a Scandinavian school,” Jarvis said.
Efforts are being made to foster elsewhere towards cultural education; this past week Gustavus held a 24 Hours of Diversity event, Hmong New Year, Diwali Celebration, and just in case you didn’t know, November is National Native American Indian Heritage month.
The International Festival has become a tradition at Gustavus. The Festival varies slightly from year to year, but the original intent remains the same; to share one’s cultural heritage and diverse experiences with the campus and community. In the middle of rising political tensions, both globally and locally, the International Festival provides a haven of neutrality.
“The Festival is a way for people to come and learn, without shoving it in your face. There’s a sensation of standing in the midst of the crowd and feeling everyone around you. It’s a magical place,” Taylor said.