Traveling the globe…without leaving home

Tammie Tamara

Tammie TamaraSection Editor

With the aromas and flavors of different cuisine, the colorful Native American traditional dances of Jackie Bird, and the sounds of bagpipes and reggae music, the Festival of Cultures last Friday was a treat for the senses.

“There’s just something about it,” said junior Joy Mohamed, a mass communications and political science major, who ran the Nigeria food booth.

“People come here and get all kinds of colors, tastes and smells, and I think that’s why they love it and keep coming back.”

This year’s 19 food booths and 35 display and bizarre tables filled the HPER Center with people of all ages.

Presented by the International Relations Club and the Office for Diversity Enhancement, the Festival of Cultures is the largest diversity event on campus, Director of Diversity Allen Branum said.

“Attendance is generally around 2,500 to 3,000. It’s well-attended,” he said. “A large portion of that is from high school students coming in.”

Event coordinator Sandy Newman was pleased with the amount of student involvement this year.

“There’s a real effort on the part of our students to participate this year,” she said. Of all 54 booths, only two were from off-campus.

The SDSU International Students presented a variety of folk dances and songs on stage. In addition, Newman lined up a number of other acts for entertainment throughout the day.”I try to do something a little different every year,” she said.

She was excited to bring in the Jawaahir Dance Company, a group from the Twin Cities that performs Middle Eastern dances. She also brought in the reggae band Les Exodus from the Cities.

The Festival has value for students beyond getting an out-of-the-ordinary lunch.

“With the shrinking world, I think it’s important to have exposure to other cultures and an appreciation of them,” Newman said.

Plus, it helps prepare students for the real world.

Sometimes students learn about job opportunities in other countries.

“It’s just preparing them for their future, and doing it in a fun way,” she said.

Journalism graduate student Chen Cheng-Huan from Taiwan enjoyed the chance to answer people’s questions at the Chinese and Taiwanese booth.

“I found this very interesting,” he said. “Not only can I get back into English, but also I can help people with Chinese culture.”

Information is a valuable tool, he said. He wants to help students by giving them as much as he can.

“If you have a lot of information, I think you can make many choices in your life,” he said.

Senior mechanical engineering major Khalid Al-Jahani from Saudi Arabia also appreciated the chance to share his culture.”I love the Festival of Cultures,” he said. “It is one of the things that we show our culture through.”

This year, he decided to display spices, medicines and dresses from his part of the world.

Junior German and biology major Gina Cahoe spent part of her Friday running the German Club booth.

“We have a wide variety of various pieces of German culture, from food to important historical things such as pieces of the Berlin wall,” she said.

She said curiosity plays a big part in the popularity of the festival.

Festival-goer and senior chemistry major Desiree Loan Elk agreed.

“Most people don’t just go around and look; they actually interview and ask questions. (They like) to see how all the other cultures eat and what their traditional outfits are.”

At the Bangladesh food booth, Magedur Rahman, a transportation engineering graduate student, enjoyed talking with those who stopped by the booth.

“People can share their views and ideas, and exchange their ideas–the way they lead their life and the way we lead ours,” he said.

This was the first time at the Festival for freshman consumer affairs major Jenn Colgan.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” she said, slightly overwhelmed with the barrage of activity. “There was such a diversity of cultures in one room.”

She particularly liked the International Programs Booth: “Coke cans come in every shape and size,” she said, referring to the display of Coke cans from a variety of countries.

#1.887019:2907806914.jpg:festival cookie bars.jpg:The Taste of India table served Milk Burfi, a dessert with milk, butter and sugar. :#1.887018:3233298829.jpg:festival kid singers.jpg:Internationally recognized American Indian hoop dancer and singer, Jackie Bird, and family performed contemporary and traditionalsongs and dances.:#1.887017:435181158.jpg:FestivalofCultures.jpg:Qadir Aware mans the Kurdistan booth which included an elegant tea :