By Song My Hoang
Union’s continual drive to promote diversity throughout campus life culminated in the International Student Night, sponsored by World Around U: The International Students’ Association.
World Around U is a club that “provides events and education about various cultures as well as advocacy for current and future international students.”
There are more than 40 countries outside the United States that are represented on campus. International Student Night aimed to increase awareness about the multitude of cultures at Union.
International students celebrated their diverse backgrounds with performances, food and other cultural activities outside of Schaffer Library last Monday night.
The event was a cultural exchange between American students and international students from countries such as: Afghanistan, Chile, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam.
The atmosphere was permeated with vibrant drum performances by the African Students Association.
Language Assistant Camila Gutiérrez represented Chile and tried to display Chilean cultural practices during their national holidays in the spring. She cooked cheese and beef empanadas, and had authentic Chilean wine on display.
Gutiérrez she claimed, “I’m proud to say that my country is internationally known for its wine. As the saying goes, ‘Si a Chile vino y no tomó vino, ¿a qué vino?’ (If you came to Chile and didn’t drink wine, what did you come for?).”
She prepared Rayuela, a game that has been present in Chilean culture since pre-Columbian times and was declared a national sport in 1948.
Gutiérrez explained that Rayuela consists of “throwing stones or a metal puck into a wooden box filled with mud. The players have to aim for a cord that is tied to both sides of the box. Whoever’s stone lands closer or on top of the cord will win the game.”
The China Consortium presented different aspects of Chinese culture. There was a calligraphy demonstration, a classical Chinese musical instrument display and a paper-cutting station. Paper-cutting is an activity that is prevalent during traditional Chinese festivals.
The Vietnamese table included a myriad of traditional dishes, such as Vietnamese spring rolls, green bean cake, sesame candy and kumquat candy. There was also a display of Vietnamese photos.
In particular, the kumquat candy served as a symbol for the festivities during Lunar New Year in Vietnam. Vietnamese families either buy a kumquat tree or a peach blossom flower for New Year celebrations.
The Japanese table taught people how to make sushi, as well as how to fold origami.
At the French table, Olivier Truquet ’16 played songs from authentic French singers Indochine, Grégoire and BB Brunes, as well as French rappers Maître Gims and Orelsan.
Next year, he plans to cook a real quiche loraine with salad and citronette, as well as to have a panel presentation in addition to the music.
International Student Night provided exposure to diverse backgrounds and perspectives, which is an integral component of a liberal arts education.
“Our presence is a significant contribution to Union’s cultural diversity, as we provide students with new cultural experiences and help them integrate more into Union’s diverse culture,” Lan stated.
Truquet showed his appreciation for the international community at Union. He remarked, “At the beginning of the year, I had the chance to spend one week with all these people and discover what cultural diversity really means.
“I really learned to understand and embrace their culture by participating in events organized in the Minerva Houses,” continued Truqet.
Gutiérrez added, “The diversity that I’ve experienced at Union has certainly awakened diverse interests in me, and it even motivated me to learn a third language: Japanese! Honestly, if you go to Union and you don’t hang out with the internationals, you are missing out!”
Treasurer of World Around U Tuan Nguyen ’16 commented that the event was successful because the attendance was higher than expected and, more importantly, people genuinely wanted to learn about different cultures.
He concluded, “If you are open to international students, you will definitely enrich your knowledge of different cultures.”