The Charger Blog

University's International Festival Enables Chargers to Experience the World from Campus

For more than 40 years, the University's International Festival has brought together Chargers from around the world. It's a fun way for the University community to share the richness and vibrance of their cultures while celebrating unity, connection, and diversity.

April 5, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Students at the International Festival
The International Festival brought together students from around the world.

Chiamaka Agu '25 MPH was smiling as she greeted the many members of the University community who stopped by her table at the University's International Festival (I-Fest). From the jewelry on display to the hot and delicious food she and her fellow Chargers served, she was excited to have the opportunity to answer questions about her culture and share what makes it so special.

Agu hails from Nigeria, and she's a member of the Igbo tribe. She was enthusiastic to share the richness of her culture, and she hopes stopping by her table helped expand her fellow Chargers' understanding of that part of the world.

"Africa is made up of different countries, but most people see it as a country – not a continent," she explained. "This is a good opportunity to share the components of these countries. It's a great way for us to share the beautiful things about our cultures."

Chiamaka Agu ’24
Chiamaka Agu ’24 (right) greets visitors at the table showcasing Nigeria.

At a nearby table, Wadjedane Bousmid '24 MBA was also greeting visitors warmly and answering their questions about her home country. She was especially excited to share crafts, jewelry, and clothing from her native Algeria, and she too hoped stopping by her table would be enlightening for her fellow Chargers.

"To my knowledge, it's the first time the University has had a table with the Algerian flag at I-Fest," she said. "I'm happy to share my culture. A lot of people think that part of Africa is all the Sahara, but it's not. I want to dispel stereotypes about my culture."

'I was excited to be back'
Students at I-Fest
Students tasted cuisines from around the world.

Hosted by the University's Office of Graduate and International Student Life, the Graduate Student Council, and the Student Committee of Programming Events, I-Fest brings the Charger community together every year for a celebration of diversity and culture. Visitors got to tour the world – all without leaving campus.

I-Fest is an event many Chargers look forward to every year. This year's event – the 43rd – was held in the University's Beckerman Center. The space was transformed into a vibrant celebration with food, music, and traditional clothing from around the globe. Students showcased their countries including India, Jamaica, and Nepal, at tables set up around the space. Takeaway containers were offered to attendees who were fasting as part of the holy month of Ramadan so that they could enjoy the food later in the evening.

The Asian American Student Union
The Asian American Student Union hosted the South Korea and Japan table, which included origami.

Len Diamond '25 proudly showed off origami at the table showcasing South Korea and Japan. Diamond, who is half Japanese, joined the University's Asian American Student Union to stay connected to his Asian culture. Now sergeant in arms for the organization, which hosted the table, he was excited to share his culture with his fellow Chargers.

"I went to I-Fest last year, and I really enjoyed it," he said. "I was excited to be back this year. I got to experience other cultures and food from countries such as Iran and Kosovo. I was not familiar with some of these countries, and it was cool to learn about them."

'We all belong to all cultures'
Battula Bala Jyothi Ravali and Esma Fera
Battula Bala Jyothi Ravali ’24 M.S. (left), and Esma Fera ’24.

Kosovo was again represented at I-Fest this year. Esma Fera '24 was dressed in traditional Kosovan clothing as she served byrek (a tasty filled pastry that was popular among attendees). For Fera, it was a celebration of her culture – and something she couldn't wait to share with her fellow Chargers.

"I was especially excited to share and represent my country with the food, my outfit, and everything at the table," she said. "This is a great way to represent our taste and our country, as well as our values."

Students at the IFest
Students proudly donned traditional clothing of their cultures (left), while the table showcasing Italy got the thumbs up.

After tasting food from around the world, attendees enjoyed live performances, as students shared music and dancing from their cultures. For Fera, whose participation in last year's I-Fest gained her national attention in Kosovo, the event has been a wonderful way for her and her fellow Chargers to come together and to get to know each other – and the world – a little better.

"At I-Fest, all countries come together," she said. "It's a very positive way for all of the University community to see that we are all one and that we all belong to all cultures. And we don't have to go someplace else to experience this. It's all right here."