The International Festival, a culmination of cultural education and entertainment, is returning to the Gustavus campus to give the community an opportunity to experience a world of diversity. The festival, scheduled for Nov. 20 at 7:00 p.m., will be hosted in Alumni Hall.
This annual event is an outlet for students with diverse cultural backgrounds, international students and those who have studied abroad to share their experiences with their peers. The event is split into two parts—first, the floor will be open for attendees to peruse more than 15 displays of countries and cultures and speak with representatives from each; the second half of the event will feature performances from 10-11 groups who will sing, dance and play instruments while dressed in their culture’s traditional attire. The festival will close with a fashion show of 10-15 individuals modeling traditional cultural clothing.
“I think a lot of students at Gustavus are interested in cultures of the world, and [the festival] is a good way to get a taste of them, learn about parts of the world and see some entertainment,” International Student Services Coordinator Jeff Anderson said.
The International Festival has traditionally been hosted by the International Cultures Club (ICC). This year, however, ICC has partnered with the Asian Cultures Club and Crossroads to co-host the event. The combination of groups participating has allowed for greater funding and publicity for the event.
“It’s actually one of my favorite events at Gustavus, and it’s a lot of fun because you get to see what this school has to offer culturally. It’s quite amazing,” Junior Geography Major Cristian Raether said. Raether will be serving as the Festival’s emcee during the performances.
During the first half of the event, students and other attendees will have the opportunity to walk through Alumni Hall and visit a variety of tables with displays of each of the cultures represented. Information and conversation will be readily available at each display. Guests will also be treated to three desserts, each from a different culture.
Thuy Ninh, Co-Chair of ICC, is responsible for the fashion show. Ninh participated in the International Festival last year as a representative of Vietnamese culture. This year’s fashion show will include cultures from Mexico, Somalia, Ethiopia, Senegal, Japan, China and more.
“It’s a group of about 10-15 students who will wear their traditional clothes on the stage just like a fashion show, and we’ll provide a description and what it means,” Ninh said.
Bushra Wahid, a sophomore communication studies major, planned the performances for this year’s festival. Wahid, an international student from New Delhi, performed in the fashion show last year. This year the event will include performances of Chinese and Japanese songs, various styles of dances and a Vietnamese duet on guitar.
“The performances are different, the dances in particular. I think people will enjoy it,” Wahid said.
Faculty members have also volunteered to perform at the Festival. Professor of French and LALACS Pashal Kyoore has participated in past festivals and is expected to perform with a traditional instrument again this year. Assistant Professor of Spanish Ana Adams will also be performing a Spanish dance. Not every performance will be individual, either; the Latin American-based campus group OLAS will be performing a group dance.
The International Festival attracted about 300 attendees last year, and the groups coordinating this year’s event hope to surpass that amount.
“They’ve got quite a good group involved this year as far as organizing [the festival],” Anderson said.
“I would love to have everyone—I would want more people to come, to learn and to enjoy [the festival],” Ninh said.
Other organizers of the event were similarly enthusiastic.“If people come to it once or twice and they enjoy it, then they keep doing that and coming to [the festival]. Those people that do come have enjoyed it,” Wahid said.
Raether has attended the event twice and served as the emcee last year, but his involvement is not the only thing that keeps him interested.
“Even if I wasn’t the emcee, I would still go because I love seeing all the culture at Gustavus, and I think this is one of the few times … where you get them all together,” Raether said.
If students need any more encouragement to attend this event, they’ll have Raether’s word to rely on. “This is going to be the best International Festival ever,” Raether said.