International Festival celebrates diversity among UVU student body

For one night, individuals traveled all around the world — without stepping foot outside UVU.

Dancers perform the Ballet Folklórico Quetzalcóatl de Utah at the International Festival on Saturday, March 9. Photo by Kayla Baggerly.

For one night, individuals traveled all around the world — without stepping foot outside UVU.

During the International Festival on March 9, booths outside the Grande Ballroom were decorated to represent various countries. Attendees were welcomed to try varieties of international snacks, including boba milk tea from Taiwan, baklava from Israel and pão de queijo from Brazil.

Once they sampled from and visited each booth, they were invited into the Grande Ballroom to enjoy performances and a multicultural fashion show.

The festival, hosted by the International Student Council, had a large turnout for its 15th run. Steven Zhang, president of the International Student Council and a junior studying exercise science, said 1,000 people were expected to attend based on social media responses.

The booths were decorated with objects that represented their respective countries. Some had games to join, such as the South Korean dice game where students threw large rectangular “dice” and could win prizes based off how many points they got. Many of those running the booths wore traditional clothing from their countries and were happy to answer any questions people had.

The show in the Grande Ballroom began with the classic Chinese Jung Hing lion dance. Other performances included two numbers by Ballet Folklórico Quetzalcóatl de Utah, who danced with the traditional bright and colorful Mexican folklore costumes and the UVU Cultural Envoy who performed a Polynesian dance to Meda Butu. Other highlights were the fashion show where students had the opportunity to represent the cultural clothing of different countries and the closing Japanese drumming performance by group Kenshin Taiko.

Olha Mykytka, a sophomore studying art and design, said she was honored to represent her country, Ukraine, in the fashion show. She said that for international students, the festival is the most important event in the year and she was glad to see all the support from the community and school, including from President Astrid Tuminez, who was in attendance.

“It’s really important to see the world around. [The festival] is such a wonderful environment where you have people you can learn from,” Olha said. “It’s important to look at the traditional costumes, learn the history and have a more clear image of each country.”

The success of the event is thanks to its long-time preparation. Steve Crook, director of International Student Services, said that planning for the event starts in the fall, when members begin looking for student volunteers to run the booths. Zhang said that on the day of the event, students were at the school at 9 a.m. to prepare for the festival, even though it didn’t start until the evening. All the support they received made their efforts worth it.

Zhang explained that the council’s mission is to help international students study at the school and let other people know about the variety of nations at the school. The festival gives them the platform to share their culture with other UVU students. He said the event is important for all students, both international and not, to learn about each other and break the barriers between different cultures.

“It’s important to have a global view,” Crook said. “The festival allows international students to share their culture. It’s great for UVU students, community, faculty and staff to come so they can enjoy and learn about other cultures.”

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