By Molly Burke
The International Student Organization held its first international festival at 5 p.m. March 31 in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center.
Guests dressed in traditional cultural attire, gathered to dance, watch performances and eat foods from a variety of countries represented by the international students. Many cultural, religious and ethnic organizations and clubs set up tables around the Chestnut Room.
Tafadzwa Mapiki, a junior biology pre-medicine major, is the president of the ISO. She said the event was created to showcase the organizations and clubs.
“There are so many cultural organizations on campus that are not active. They don’t host any events, they probably don’t know how to go about funding … We decided, as the International Student Organization, we should be able to help them go through that,” Mapiki said.
About 68 countries are represented by 465 international students at Youngstown State University. Mapiki said the event was also made to bridge the gap between international and domestic students.
“There’s nothing more special than making friends with people who are willing to embrace your culture with you, and I think events like this are necessary or they give an opportunity for people to meet in such a way,” Mapiki said.
Some foods offered at the festival were Turkish delight, Turkish tea, Arroz Con Gandules, egg rolls, vegetarian options and halal options. Dinner was extended later into the evening for those practicing Ramadan.
ISO advisor and coordinator for the International Programs Office Nicholas Dubos, said ISO collaborated with Chartwells Dining Service to make the food for the festival.
“We’ve gotten recipes that we’ve worked really close with Chartwells, and we’re going to go out and buy the spices, and we’ve been working with them to pick certain types of foods in our budget,” Dubos said.
Dubos said the festival was educational to everyone who came.
“We want our international students to love being at YSU … We asked them, what can you do to make a difference? And so that’s part of this dinner, it’s starting something totally new,” Dubos said. “If you’re a domestic student or a faculty member and you don’t have anything to do with our international population, you’re going to come and you’re going to learn something,”
Students who performed at the festival showcased their talents in dancing, singing and more. A group dance was presented by students from the Youngstown Rayen Early College High School.
Freshman biology pre-medicine major, Manav Desai, hosted a table for the Pakistani-Indian Student Organization and performed a dance to pop music mixed with traditional Indian beats. Desai said he hopes people learn more about his culture.
“In this festival, I hope people take away the vivid diversity and cultural awareness. I want people to know more about my culture, how diverse it is, and how complexly vivid it is,” Desai said.
Karina Cummings, a senior Italian education major, set up a table for the Italian club at the festival. Cummings said the club wanted to showcase Italian culture.
“Even though we are a small cultural group, there are a lot of Italians in Youngstown, and I would just love to get people to know more about the culture, even if you are or are not Italian,” Cummings said.
For more information on upcoming ISO events, check out its Facebook page.