One in the Same: International Festival Brings Students and Cultures Together

The Charger Bulletin

By Eric Neilson

Contributing Writer

Saturdays are ideally spent sleeping in, catching up on homework, or giving back to your community. However, on April 13, many students spent their Saturday at the 33rd annual International Festival.

Students were able to immerse themselves in the cultures of 15 different countries. At this year’s festival countries like Taiwan, Uganda, Sri Lanka,and Saudi Arabia among others were represented.

For those who were unable to attend this or a previous year’s festival, you missed the beauty of it. The night consisted of food, entertainment and dance. Regardless of race, nationality or religious belief, people came together to what seemed like a welcoming communion. Each country brought its own flair to the table. China showcased its authentic fans, incense, and porcelain (or as we often call it—China); Turkey, its unique Ebru paintings. Nigeria, who won the Most Interactive display, was excited to reveal its eclectic set of percussion instruments. And Saudi Arabia provided a pick-me-up with its Arabic coffee.

The festival’s director, Karima Jackson, explained that she loves putting on this event because it’s “the only opportunity to connect with the whole University.”

President Kaplan said, “[the Festival] is the greatest tribute to the diversity of the student body here at UNH.” The annual Festival received an abundance of support from the students too.

In between serving the numerous taste testers, the representatives of each country—all of whom are international students here at the University—were able to give me a few words about the event. I asked almost every international student at the tables what this festival meant to them, and their responses were inspiring.

Fatna Demir, the Turkish Cultural Center coordinator, said the Festival is meant for “peace building and spreading love among other cultures.” This event is also about spreading awareness, and to show how students of different cultures are just like everyone else. Abdullah Alwasel, a civil engineering major, said, “Think of Saudi Arabia. Most people will say, ‘oh they have camels, deserts, and oil.’ This event shows that we are more than that.”

After the food was tasted, the displays were scrutinized, and the entertainment was enjoyed, the judges made their final verdict. The results: India won the Best Appetizer; Bangledesh, the Best Dessert; and against contrary beliefs, USA won the Best Entrée.

The Most Informative display went to Uganda; the Best Presentation, to India; and the Most Interactive, to Nigeria. David Janovsky made Ireland proud by providing the Most Original entertainment, and the Best in Show and Visual Appeal was awarded to India with a dance performed by the Indian Student Council.

Whether an award was presented or not, everyone was proud to represent their country and enjoy each other’s company. In retrospect, at the end of each day regardless of race or nationality, we are all one in the same. We all enjoy food, entertainment, and the opportunity to bask in the spotlight—even if for only one night. That one night could change someone’s perspective for a lifetime.