International Festival

IUS Horizon

It was an international scene Tuesday, March 5, when students, staff and community members gathered to celebrate the 15th annual International Festival in the Hoosier Room.

The room was filled with the sounds of indigenous instruments such as the steel drum, native to Trinidad and Tobago, and the oud, a pear-shaped Middle-Eastern string instrument.

Local dancers jigged and moved to the steps of traditional European and Irish dances.

The smell of regional foods rose into the air. Conversations of cross-cultural experiences and curiosity could be heard. Children danced. Peace was promoted.

This atmosphere has remained the same throughout the years, but as Bernie Carducci, professor of psychology and emcee of the event, said, it continues to grow.

“I’ve been doing this every year, and it gets bigger every year,” Carducci said.

Carducci, who is of Italian descent and donned Italian-pride-inspired clothing at the event, said the festival reminded him of a specific Italian tradition.

“What’s really nice is you see lots and lots of members of the community here, lots and lots of kids, so I tell people, ‘this reminds me of an Italian wedding,’” he said. “You have old people, you have young people, you have little kids running around, and this is really family-focused, community-focused.”

This event was hosted by the Office of International Programs. The office’s student intern Daniel Murray, philosophy senior, helped to plan the event.

“It’s been stressful, but fun,” he said. “It’s being able to plan and anticipate for large groups and have some international exposure.”

Some students who experienced this exposure firsthand were those that were part of the Cuba Experience, a study abroad program that took place last summer.

The group was one of many student organizations that hosted a booth this year. With a booth complete with their own journals and photo albums from the trip, members sought to inform festival goers of the country’s culture and people.

Jennifer Reichert, international studies senior, was one of the students that spoke with the booth’s visitors. One thing Reichert explained was the popularity of dance in Cuba.

“Everybody’s born with rhythm [in Cuba],” Reichert said. “I’m Mexican, so we’re used to going out and salsa dancing and stuff, and I always thought I could dance, but I got to Cuba and realized I was sorely mistaken.”

The festival also had shopping booths where students and other visitors could purchase handmade items from foreign countries.

Alexina Wilson, international studies and Spanish senior, said the food was one of her favorite parts.

“I love trying foods from new places,” she said, “and this has such a wide variety of things that you can try, and you get full off of them even if you don’t like some of them.”

In addition to enjoying the food and fun, festival goers and planners, such as Wilson, all realize the importance of spreading knowledge and the understanding of other cultures.

“It just stops us from being close-minded,” Wilson said. “Hearing about other things and just considering the way that other people view things just helps us understand the world as a whole better, which I think is always good.”

By SAMANTHA FRAZIER

Features Editor

sefrazie@ius.edu