The annual International Festival took place Nov. 20 on the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith campus, but the event offered attendees a glimpse into nearly 30 countries from around the world.
The festival, better known as iFest, occurred in the Reynolds Room of the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in recognition of International Education Week, which runs from Nov. 17-21.
The festival offered students an array of cultural displays. Tables were arranged along the walls of the Reynolds Room featuring the countries participating in the event, and each table contained a poster board and miscellany from their respective country.
The Vietnamese table offered samplings of the country’s coffee to passersby. Other booths showcased candies, framed photos, and clothing. Hmong, Vietnamese, Japanese and Spanish students performed a series of 10-minute performances throughout the event on a stage in the center of the room.
Monique De Sales of Sao Paulo and Marcos Pfitzer of Itajai manned the Brazilian booth, where they educated people on soccer and carnivals, both of which are cultural staples of the South American country.
“I enjoy sharing the knowledge that I have,” Sales said. “I live in one kind of city and he lives in another, so we have different knowledge to share.”
Steve Li of Wuhu, China, spoke to attendees of the festival about the country’s cuisine, which is much different than the Chinese food offered in the United States.
“American Chinese food is much different,” he said. “The key to Chinese food is the sauce, and we like to keep the original flavor and taste.”
Other participating countries and cultures included Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, El Salvador, England, France, Gabon, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, Nepal, Québec, Scotland, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam and West Indies.
The university’s mission is “to prepare students to succeed in an ever-changing global world while advancing economic development and quality of place,” and iFest helps to broaden students’ global perspectives, according to Takeo Suzuki, executive director of international relations at UAFS.
“The International Fest provides a better understanding towards globalization and foreign cultures without having to visit those countries,” Suzuki said. “We celebrate on- and off-campus diversity at UAFS, and this is a great opportunity forour students to learn about how diversified we are.”