SMC celebrates International Education Week with cultural festival
Sarah Cate White | Friday, November 17, 2023
In honor of International Education Week, Saint Mary’s hosted an International Cultural Festival. Thursday night, Haggar Parlor was filled with dancing, singing, performing and food from various cultures. The event was organized by the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures.
Jennifer Zachman, associate professor in the modern languages and cultures department, helped organize the showcase. Zachman said she values the importance of an international education and is pleased with the efforts SMC has made to embrace international education.
“The International Cultural Festival highlights and showcases the talent that we have at Saint Mary’s … Every year, it’s a program that is nationally sponsored by the state department to celebrate international education. This includes the benefits and rewards students receive from getting an international education,” Zachman said.
Every language that the College has to offer was represented by a performance of a student or professor in that discipline. There were more than 15 performances by students, including spoken word poetry, dancing, singing, piano, guitar, percussion and visual art.
“There are poems, songs, dances — things that we teach, things that we study and things that bring enjoyment to peoples lives,” Zachman said.
Katie O’Connell performed “La Vie en Rose” with Bernadette Petty, Victoria Olabintan, Emma Smiley, Sophia Meyer and Mia Ritschard. The group is in an intermediate French class taught by Tara Beth Smithson. O’Connell emphasized her excitement to share her talent and love of French with the College community.
“This was such a special opportunity to have here on campus, combining my favorite things: performing and French. I think it was such a fresh opportunity to showcase all of the cultures represented here at Saint Mary’s and all of the talent as well,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell said she feels that learning outside of the classroom, through opportunities like this, is valuable. When students are able to engage in lively expression of culture, she noted, they feel more a part of it.
“I learned how important it is to highlight these different cultures and showcase how even though we are all different, we can all share an appreciation for culture and ideas,” O’Connell said.
Ava Zalduendo and Tegan Kania performed a salsa routine to “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony. The pair decided to participate in the festival after being encouraged by Ruth Solarte-Hensgen, their Spanish professor.
“It meant a lot to showcase my talent to the Saint Mary’s community. I loved hearing the audience cheer us on as we performed. I feel more confident with myself and my talent,” Zalduendo said.
Zachman said she is proud of the community and inclusion demonstrated at the International Cultural Festival.
“It makes me proud to be a part of this community because it shows we can come together and celebrate all the talents that represent many different cultures in the world, many different cultural traditions and many cultural artifacts,” she said.