Fifteen large flags waved in the light breeze Nov. 20, representing the countries of students who attend the University of La Verne.
Students from the International Student Organization and Study Abroad Center were hosting their 18th annual International Education Week and festival to share their cultures, international food, clothing, music and artwork.
As the booths went up, the variety of food dishes heated up filled the air in Sneaky Park with a savoring aroma. Offered were a rich variety of international desserts and foods, such as garbanzo beans with Indian flavors and spices, Cuban black beans mixed in an authentic sauce and Taiwanese hot chicken soup with ginseng and Boba tea.
ULV students from around the world – Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Jamaica, China, Cuba, India and many others – came together to teach others about their culture throughout the day.
Later, students represented their country of origin by wearing traditional clothing in an International Fashion show.
Philip Hofer, director of the International and Study Abroad Center, said that the annual event recognizes foreign exchange students. “We coordinate the event with the English as a second language program. International students successfully come together to make the event happen,” Hofer said.
Sandra Adams, director of the ELS Language Center, said the event is a great way to integrate students from other countries and let them show others about where they are from.
Paige Mateski, international student adviser, said many of the students at the festival are open to getting to know each other.
Takuya Nomura, ELS student and English major, is from Japan and was representing his country with pictures of “The Temple of Silver” and the “Temple of Shining Mercy,” which are prominent landmarks in his city of Kyoto.
“Many tourists come to my country to visit the temples because they are very historical with the two brothers who built them in the 18th century,” Nomura said.
Nomura also displayed photos of customs and history. He especially noted the geisha’s clothing, which still exists in Japan.
One of the popular desserts from Thailand was gellatin, made with coconut milk. “I like to make this dish for everyone since it is a tradition for us at home,” Sarah Ariyakun, MBA graduate student, said.
Lynn Chang, from Taiwan, is an ELS student. She made her traditional Taiwanese chicken soup to share.
Mohammed Algadhi, ELS student from Saudi Arabia, showed pictures of Khamis Mushayt, his hometown. “The United States is much different here, and there is too much freedom,” Algadhi said. After studying English, Algadhi will return to his country for civil engineering.
“I really liked the booth from Saudi Arabia because they offered an interesting range of desserts and educational material about the conflict and traditions there,” Claudia Chavez, junior criminology major, said.
As students stood around laughing, Lorena Salazar, from Mexico City, served the traditional tapioca dessert of Arroz Con Leche.
“It is so great, because we are learning so much about each other’s culture and supporting each other in this event,” Salazar said.
She showed pictures of Mexico City with a beautiful angel on a tall building, in city center.
Danielle Strachan, from Jamaica, showed her poster board of Jamaica’s celebrities, like Bob Marley, famous reggae singer, and Usain Bolt, 2008 Olympic gold medalist. “Jamaica is a beautiful place, and, when you visit, the people are so warm and will embrace you,” Strachan said.
Tsigereda Kassa, freshman business administration major from Ethiopia, said that many names have a meaning, and her name means Rose. Kassa was giving out delicious roasted barley seeds that are a traditional snack in her country. She also showed beautiful clothing that is worn in Ethiopia. “It is so great to see everyone come together as if it is a gift for everyone here to be able to show his or her traditions,” Kassa said. She said she did not sleep the night before but was exited to attend the event and took much pride in sharing her country with everyone.
Rasna Walia, from Punjab, India, and is an MBA student, was showing the traditional clothing and jewelry worn by Indian women. She also showed a necklace with an angel on it and said brides wear it on their wedding day as a tradition among women in India. Walia also adorned her friends with ornamental jeweled body dots – stickers to wear on the forehead, which are a decoration and fashion statement among many women in India. This ornament is usually worn during wedding ceremonies or for religious meaning.
“I liked the booth with the customs and beautiful jewelry from India the best,” Rebecca Rodriguez, sophomore computer science major, said.
One of the most popular booths was the booth from Taiwan. Striking banners hung from a line with names written in black pen with artwork.
Yi-Shan Chiang (Belle) from China showed her artwork and wrote people’s names in Chinese on red paper for everyone to take home with them. “The small red banners mean lucky and happy,” Chiang said. Senior MBA major Eric Wang said that the paper is a tradition on Chinese New Year, and that the banners signify happiness.
Many who participated in the event said they felt a connection with the students from other countries. At day’s end, the students mingling in Sneaky Park, laughing, exchanging ideas, tasting each others desserts and customs and discovering each other cultures continued. It seemed that no one wanted it to end.
Jennifer Kitzmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.