IU Southeast holds annual International Festival


Brandon Looney

A glass cased statue of a Geshi, the name of a performer of traditional Japanese theater, on display.

Brandon Looney, Staff Reporter

Distinctive booths from numerous cultures lined the walls, splashing the perimeter of the room with an assortment of colors.

The smell of culturally diverse cuisine wafted through the air past flags of varied nationalities and to the people gathered in IU Southeast’s Hoosier Room for the IUS International Festival.

The Festival, the 18th iteration of this annual event, was held on Tuesday, March 15 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Booths included representation from the Greater Louisville Japanese Center, who host the Japanese Saturday School Program in the Metro area.

Latin Music group Appalatin, a Bollywood performance group, a pair of salsa dancers and a team of lion dancers, a group that danced in tandem as a single lion, performed during the event. Food items included Swedish meatballs, German potato salad, tiramisu, sushi and falafel.

Uric Dufrene, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, attended the event and spoke about what the event does for IU Southeast.

“This is a great opportunity for the campus to celebrate and appreciate cultural diversity, and hopefully a greater awareness on the importance to economic development, and the strength of any region,” Dufrene said.

Dufrene said he wanted to show his appreciation and support for the campus community and came to experience some of the food and music of other cultures.

“The International Festival is a wonderful boost for campus climate. Bringing people together in a festive atmosphere supports a healthy campus climate,” Dufrene said.

Ichiko Epperson and Shouko Epperson, who represented the Japanese Saturday School Program, came to the event to share their culture and do community outreach.

Ichiko Epperson talked about some of the culturally distinctive symbols of his booth’s country, such as the attire.

“The kimono is a traditional attire for both men and women,” Shouko Epperson said. “It is currently worn for more ceremonial purposes such as weddings or festivals, and the kimono in many ways symbolizes what Japanese view as beautiful.”

The display for the Greater Louisville Japanese Saturday School also included a statue model of a geisha traditional performance art in Japan, as well as handmade traditional tree ornaments, and a station where you could write your name in Japanese.

When asked about the challenges of learning Japanese, Shouko Epperson said, “I would say, if you’re learning it from a western language, such as English, it can be hard to learn. Japanese equally utilizes three different forms of written language.”

Shouko Epperson had advice for those seeking to study abroad in Japan.

“I would say to work hard and not give up and to keep trying to make new connections with the people because they could last a lifetime.”


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  • A lion dance team performs during the festival.

  • Traditional Japanese tree ornaments on display.

  • A glass cased statue of a Geshi, the name of a performer of traditional Japanese theater, on display.

  • These are a form of Origami, a traditional paper folding art form from Japan.

  • Origami Pineapples on display at a booth.

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