Around the world in five hours

Western Carolina University’s campus was alive with culture on April 11 as it hosted its 33rd Annual International Festival, more commonly known as I-FEST.

I-FEST started as an academic program to bring in an international aspect of the world to the community. It has grown into a very diverse event that many students are excited to attend.

Christopher Pedo, international student advisor, is one of organizers of I-FEST.

“The festival allows international students to showcase what they are made of,” said Pedo. “It’s a chance to introduce American students to their food, clothing and entertainment.”

One of the biggest successes, and even traditions, of I-FEST is the food. Students can sample different styles of food all day. Other traditions range from the ceremonial Flag Parade, the May Pole demonstration and music and performances that are put on for guests’ entertainment.

Many changes have been seen with the festival over the last few years. The addition of the students from Saudi Arabia a few years ago created a giant leap forward with the diversity not only on campus but with the festival. This year was also the first year on the new grounds with the fountain.

“We have seen many changes in recent years. We have different music, dances and groups participating each year. Departments have even started joining as well as fraternities and sororities,” said Pedo.

Not many people will realize it, but the I-FEST is always held on a Wednesday.

“We do that because if we did it on a Friday most people have gone home, and earlier in the week people don’t want to go out and do much,” Pedo explained with a laugh.

“We want a bigger festival and we’d like to market the festival to outside cities,” Pedo said when asked about future changes. “We would like to reach the wider community of western North Carolina.”

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