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Saint Mary’s hosts International Cultural Festival

LIZ KENNEY | Thursday, November 21, 2013

On Thursday, The International Cultural Festival at Saint Mary’s showcased a variety of ethnic performances and presentations by international students and cultural clubs in conjunction with International Education Week, Terra Coham, assistant director of international student and scholar advisor at the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL), said.

“[The festival] is a chance for our international students to share with everyone where they are from and some of their cultural traditions,” said Terra Cowham.

Cowham said this event has been going on for years but has changed each year. Nonetheless, the goal is always the same – to feature international students and traditions from their native countries, she said.
Cultural presentations included slideshows and speeches, a piano performance, Irish dancing from the ND/SMC Irish Dance Team and a Japanese Tea Ceremony. Throughout the room, poster boards displayed photos and facts about these countries and tables provided food samples, clothing and other cultural items. The event featured presentations and exhibits on China, Vietnam, Burma, Egypt, Peru, Korea, Japan, Turkmenistan, Costa Rica, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

“This is not all of our international students,” Cowham said. “We actually have a total of 43 international students and scholars from all over the world. There is more countries represented at Saint Mary’s than just what you see here [tonight].”  

Sera Lee, Young Lee and Seri We, all students from Korea, provided one of night’s performances. They highlighted the various aspects of dating culture in Korea. Sera Lee said she hoped to demonstrate the differences between the relationships of Korean couples with couples from the United States.

First-year Chisom Igwe was the event’s emcee and also spoke about her native country of Nigeria.

“Today was the highlight of my week,” Igwe said. “I enjoy enlightening people about Africa because a lot of people think they know a lot about Africa in general. I just think that it is a very wrong misconception and I like sharing the side of Africa that I grew up knowing, so I enjoyed performing tonight.”

Junior Asha Gilmore, president of Around the World Club, said several departments and clubs were involved in hosting the event. These included the Saint Mary’s Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership, Student Government Association, Around the World Club and the Departments of Modern Languages, Music and Political Science.

“It is more fun when you can incorporate food, dance and music into teaching different cultures,” Gilmore said.

Cowham said this week encourages students to be global citizens.

“This week is about celebrating and focusing on the way that we are all global citizens and what international education can do for someone, no matter what country they are from,” Cowham said.  

Contact Liz Kenney at ekenne01@saintmarys.edu