KALAMAZOO—The music, dance, food and fashions of 16 cultures will be featured during Western Michigan University's 24th annual International Festival from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 24, on campus in the Bernhard Center's East Ballroom.
The event features display tables, cultural performances and a fashion show. Admission is free, and for a nominal fee attendees may sample traditional foods prepared by international students in campus kitchens under the supervision of WMU Dining Services employees.
Some 2,000 students and community members annually attend the International Festival, which allows them to "travel" around the world in a single evening while gaining an appreciation for the diversity of cultures prevalent at WMU.
The University enrolls nearly 1,600 international students from more than 95 countries and hosts many international student groups, most of which participate in the festival. The student groups are motivated to create the best display tables and performances for the chance to win the festival's Outstanding Organization Award, which includes a donation of $100 to the group's treasury.
This year, festival participants will have an opportunity for the first time to cast a ballot for their favorite table—a one-vote coupon will be issued for each $5 worth of food tickets purchased.
The student groups participating in the 2013 International Festival are the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars, Bronco African Student Association, Dominican Student Organization, German Club, Indian Student Association, Indonesian Overseas Association, Japan Club, Latino Student Alliance, Malaysian Student Association, Muslim Student Association, Pakistani Student Association, Persian Student Association, Saudi Student Association, Taiwanese Student Association, Thai Student Association, and Trio Student Success Program.
"The amount of collaboration between students and staff is amazing, and we all work hard for several months to bring together cultures from around the world in a single room," says Helder Pereira, co-chair of the 2013 International Festival planning committee. "It's a great opportunity to experience WMU's global engagement by showcasing the cultures of our fellow Broncos."
The festival is organized by WMU's International Programs Council and Campus Activities Board and co-sponsored by the Haenicke Institute for Global Education, University Cultural Events Committee, Graduate Student Advisory Committee and Western Student Association.