79 countries represented at International Night

By Makenzie Huber Reporter

SDSU International Night featured dancing, singing and food from around the world on Nov. 16 in the packed Volstorff Ballroom.  

This year’s International Night was the biggest so far since the tradition began three years ago, according to the International Relations Council.

The show was sold out by Nov. 14  after only three days of selling tickets. Doors opened at 5:30 p.m. and the event began at 6 p.m.. Tickets could be purchased at the International Affairs Office or on Main Street in The Union. Adult admission was $15, student $10 and children age five to twelve was $5. 

A total of 79 different countries are represented on campus and one way or another each country was involved in International Night. Whether through presentations, singing, dancing, or even volunteering for the event, students were able to represent their countries and help out.

Around 130 students volunteered for the event by cooking, serving or ushering. Tickets for volunteer spots were sold on Nov. 16. 

Danielle Flick, a sophomore Early Childhood education major, volunteered as a server for International Night.

“I volunteered because I thought it would be a fun, cultural event,” Flick said. “I enjoyed seeing the different cultures from SDSU and in the Brookings community. I didn’t think that it would be so culturally rich, but it was really interesting to see the different traditions.”

Amir Maleki, the adviser of the International Relations Council, said he was proud of what the students were able to accomplish for the night.

“It was put together with students,” Maleki said. “If anyone should take any credit for this it should be the students. Without them all of this couldn’t come together.”

Maleki believes that International Night is a way for international students to introduce others in the community to their different cultures.

“The whole idea is to get International students to showcase their culture and traditions, and basically open it up to everyone else,” Maleki said. “To open up to their school and community—to allow everybody to come and see what their culture and tradition is really about. Every year it gets different and bigger with new ideas.” 

A total of 11 performances were featured throughout the night including dances, singing performances and even a fashion show where students presented their traditional outfits from their different cultures.

President of the IRC, sophomore psychology major Masha Struna, oversaw the performances.

“I love [International Night’s performances],” Stuna said. “I just love how people are proud of their own traditions and they like to show it to everybody. I think it’s an amazing experience for SDSU because a lot of people are not familiar with those traditions or outfits, so I think it’s really important and means a lot.”

Sarah Hernandez, an SDSU alumna came to International Night with her husband and three daughters. She said her favorite part of the night was the dancing and seeing the beautiful array of traditional outfits.

“It was a good cultural experience,” Hernandez said. “Anytime you get the chance to expose the kids to a cultural experience it’s a great opportunity. I’ll probably end up making the Chicken Korma for my daughter at home.” 

The vice president of IRC, sophomore electrical engineering major Karim Abdelazim, also had a hand in preparing for the event.

“Basically we’re sharing and celebrating culture and diversity through International Night,” Abdelazim said. “We’re sharing the tradition of what’s been done before us, but also implementing new ideas.”

Sharing the different cultures from around the world is the main focus of the event.

“People who have never been to International Night get to see what our international students on campus do and what some of the different cultures are like,” Maleki said. “They get to see what their foods are like; just a little taste of each country.”

Food that people in the Brookings Community would not usually eat in their everyday life was served food that people in the Brookings Community would not usually eat in their everyday life was served at International Night. A total of five different entrées, each from a different country, were served along with a dessert.

Chicken Korma from Bangladesh, Raima Masala from India, Spaghetti from Italia, Chicken Adobo from the Phillipines and Aloo Dum from Nepal were all served as entrees for the night. German Apple Strudel was served as dessert and Chai tea was served as a beverage in addition to an option of water.

Alyssa Lange, a junior majoring in global studies, has enjoyed the food her past two years attending International Night.

“I like the food because I’ve never had it before and it’s different for me,” Lange said. “Desserts are my favorite.”

Kirsten Linke, an international student advisor, believes that food is a universal language.

“There’s so much meaning in it,” Linke said. “We bring food that comes from a student’s country to show students that this is what real Chinese or Indian food is, rather than a food that has been Americanized.”

Students were able to explore an assortment of food choices at the event and were able to be “adventurous in their palette,” according to Linke. Students also have this opportunity to be adventurous throughout this week.

International Night was the kick-off event for Educational Week.

Educational week began 15 years ago, but this will be its third year at SDSU. The week was first started in order to prepare Americans who wanted to study or work abroad, and to encourage future leaders from other countries to come and study in the states. At SDSU, the week is meant to highlight the fact that there are 696 international students on campus and a variety of different cultures.

There will be 20 different programs throughout the week for students, faculty and staff to speak about their experiences or their countries in the Market. Each presentation will be 15 minutes long.

Maleki believes that his experience as an international student shaped his life.

“It enriched my life,” Maleki said. “I tasted, smelled and have been to places that I could see on TV or read in a book, and it’s so great to be a part of it and actually be there. It has opened up my mind so much and brightened my horizon. It has taught me to know that if I’m talking to somebody and they are acting in a way that you’re not used to it’s not weird or strange. It might not be the same thing that you do, but it’s just a way of life for them. Regardless of where in the world you live you have to have that respect for other’s way of life. If one thing, diversity means everything for me. This is where I get my energy from; it’s my passion.”

In addition to the 15 minute presentations there will be a video contest for international students, an International BINGO night on Wednesday evening, an International Dress Day on Thursday and a taste of different countries at Larson Commons each night throughout the week. On International Dress Day students, faculty, and staff are welcome to participate by wearing attire from where they are from or from their culture. 

International Night involvement has grown throughout the past years, and the participation in Education week has increased as well throughout the SDSU student population.

“We’re trying to involve more and more students,” Stuna said. “It’s really important and fun that students attend and learn about other cultures and see them give their hearts out. It’s nice to see the people and community open their arms and help us out.”