International Festival: A day full of food, fun and culture

The 34th annual International Festival took place on Western Carolina University’s campus on Wednesday, April 10.

From 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., participants of the festival were treated to international music, food and culture on the University Center Lawn. The flag procession, an event where WCU’s international students attending the festival carry their corresponding country’s flag march around the festival and Cata-fount, took place at a little after noon.

Some of the music throughout the festival consisted of Western Carolina University’s Low Tech Ensemble, called gamelan, performing music that originated from Bali as well as bagpipes and Indian music on a sitar.

“I’ve always enjoyed coming,” said Shane Brooks, junior, who has been attending this event since he was young, “primarily for the food and crafts.”

Many on campus organizations were present to give out traditional foods and crafts. Vendors were also stationed around selling all sorts of toys and apparel.

The Sociology Club sold handmade jewelry that was crafted by a group of women from Kibera, Kenya in Africa. The groups of women make these crafts to raise money for HIV positive women and money made at the International Festival was sent back to support the group.

“I do believe we Americans can not fairly represent their beliefs and practices,” said Brooks, “but for all intents and purposes we do a great job.”

Participants could get food from different on campus organizations, such as the Asian Student Association, Latino Appreciation Student Organization and many Greek life organizations.

A ministry, LifeWay Church, gave out free root beer to promote their new on campus ministry as well as WYCLife, an organization that is working to translate the Bible to every known language. They are expected to have this project finished by 2025 with only 1,960 translations left out of 7,000.

Mountain Discovery Charter School located in Bryson City was learning the difference between fair trade and free trade as they sold baskets created by the Rural Women Cooperatives in Ghana, which is guided by fair trade policies.

“It’s funding for our PeaceJam to Tallahassee community service group,” said Randa Jobe, who was in charge of the children selling the baskets. “This is our fifth year at the festival and our third year selling fair trade items.”

The international students from Saudi Arabia had a tent with information regarding their culture as well as a chance to learn Arabic and win prizes.

Another booth was set up for participants to get Japanese calligraphy done of your name, zodiac or whatever students wanted. The booth accepted donations, and the money went to Red Cross for the earthquake victims in Japan.

“I really enjoy it,” said Zach Rumble, staff. “I brought my family here a few years back, and they had a great time.

The UC Lawn was filled with students that had come out to enjoy the weather as well as the different events the festival had to offer.

“I think this is all really cool,” said Weston Mauldin, a freshman who experienced this festival for the first time. “I really liked the bagpipe players.”