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International extravaganza celebrates cultural exchange


The 74thInternational Food and Cultural Extravaganza was hosted at Occhiato University Center Ballroom Friday, April 6, giving many the experience of traveling the world in one night.

CSU-Pueblo Group Folklorico performs a traditional Mexican folk dance at the extravaganza. Photo by Ye Ming.

“The purpose is basically for the international students to show off,” said Annie Williams, director of the Center for International Program. “They can make others aware of their countries, their traditions, their cultures and food.”

The event attracted more than 150 people, including international students, university faculty and staff, as well as friends and host families of the students. A few recent graduates also came back for the celebration.

It opened with Sri Lanka guitar music performed by Nirman Jayasena, a student from Sri Lanka studying mechatronics engineering at CSU-Pueblo.

Derek Lopez, director of the First-year Programs, led the opening prayer and performed the Native American guitar and flute for the audience. Several performers also showcased their traditional dances from Ireland, Mexico and Nepal.

While people were enjoying delicacies from countries such as Japan and Mexico, an international fashion show also gave them a taste of culture through the traditional costumes students and staff wore to the event.

Face painting and Henna, a popular body art form in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, were also offered to the audience.

Currently, there are 111 international students representing 30 countries enrolled at CSU-Pueblo. The event gave spotlights to every country by hanging their national flags and displaying their art crafts and souvenirs.

Paperboards with information of individual countries were also displayed in the room.

“We have a lot of ethnicities here, and we all get along pretty well with each other,” said Nehal Mhatre, an Indian student pursuing her Master of Business Administration.

The extravaganza first started in 1939 and has become one of the oldest events on campus. It originated with the idea of honoring and saying goodbye to international students graduating during the spring semesters, Williams said.

“For me, it’s the first goodbye party,” said Franz Weisbrich, a German student graduating in May with a degree in MBA. “It feels kind of sad.”

Anais Escobar, a senior studying mass communications from Venezuela, helped organize the event as a CIP public relations intern.

“We are just trying to give the best we can give for the students,” she said. With a relatively small staff, the CIP and international students need more support from the campus, she said. “I’m sure I will be missing everyone.”

Every year, CIP gives out an “International Supporter of the Year” award to a person who has made immense contribution to the international community on campus.

This year, Seongjong Joo, a professor of business received the award. In the past years, he has helped CSU-Pueblo establish the exchange program with Korean universities and recruited many Korean students to study at CSU-Pueblo.

He continuously interacts with international students and helps them break in and experience American culture, said Mhatre, who has Joo as professor in business.