The Charger Blog

Annual International Festival Highlighting Diversity of Charger Community Headlined Fun and Memorable Graduate Appreciation Week

The University’s recent Graduate Appreciation Week included a variety of exciting and interactive events, including the University’s much anticipated International Festival. Students say the week was a great way to connect with their fellow Chargers.

April 22, 2024

By Anchal Bhatia ’24 MBA

iFest was a highlight of Graduate Appreciation Week.
iFest was a highlight of Graduate Appreciation Week.

By planning a long list of various events and activities planned for the students, the Office of Graduate and International Student Life (OGISL) made the beginning of April memorable for graduate students by sponsoring Graduate Appreciation Week (GAW). It was a chance for grad students to enjoy student life while taking a break from the busy Spring semester.

The Great Dubois performed as part of Graduate Appreciation Week.
The Great Dubois performed as part of Graduate Appreciation Week.

From the Mexican-themed kick-off celebration to the awards ceremony through the concluding event, students got together, enjoyed ourselves, and we immersed ourselves in various cultures over the seven days.

Graduate students commended Graduate Appreciation Week 2024 and expressed their enthusiasm for the wholesome engagement event organized by OGISL. The Graduate Appreciation Week included events such as the Graduate Student Showcase, the Success Symposium, Glow Party, the 44th Annual International Fest (iFest), and a variety show that served as a finaly of the week. Over the course of the week, students engaged and displayed their talents and enthusiasm in various ways.

‘I learned so much’
Chargers learned about a wide array of countries and cultures during iFest.
Chargers learned about a wide array of countries and cultures during iFest.

Esosa Edo-Osagie ’24 MBA, an active volunteer with OGISL, was one of the two hosts of the iFest and a crucial volunteer at the OGISL events. She aimed to ensure students found comfort in participating in the GAW events. Edo-Osagie says GAW and iFest are her favorite events at the University.

"Hosting iFest again this year was extremely fun, but at the same time, it was quite a bittersweet feeling as this will be my final time doing so,” she said. “Being a host for GAW and iFest was my way of sharing a goodbye to the University, which is an emotional feeling. The performances, food, and all the cultural displays were breathtaking and even more elevated this year. Thanks to OGISL for hosting iFest, as I learned so much about different cultures.”

‘A blast’

The most anticipated event out of the week was iFest, OGISL's way of displaying all the parts of the world that make up our Charger community. Students were dressed in their respective countries' traditional outfits and made sure to add color and glamour to iFest. With exceptional food from different nationalities as well as singing and dancing performances, the graduate student community provided a day to remember for all the guests and attendees.

"GAW was a blast,” said Edo-Osagie. “I saw so many of my friends and colleagues throughout the week, which was amazing. Apart from the iFest, my second favorite event of GAW was the kickoff celebration with the Mariachi Band, as well as the Variety Finale Show, where The Great Dubois and Learnmore Jonasi kept us hooked to our chairs, laughing, and enjoying the evening. I was also very excited to cheer for my friends at the showcase and the awards ceremony. It is beautiful to see how far we have come and how much each of us has achieved. I will truly miss the enthusiasm as a student, and I will cherish these memories for a long time.”

‘A luminous touch’

Ajay Alle ’25 M.S., president of the Indian Student Council, was proud to be part of Graduate Appreciation Week. Alle was also proud to see ISC actively represented in GAW and was pleased to see the active participation of all those who volunteered with ISC for GAW 2024.

Chargers celebrated culture and community during iFest.
Chargers celebrated culture and community during iFest.

"Graduate Appreciation Week launched into full swing with an electrifying kick-off event featuring a sensational Mexican band crew that set the stage on fire,” he recalled. “The pulsating rhythms and infectious melodies had everyone on their feet, creating an atmosphere of pure euphoria. As the music filled the air, graduate students from all corners of the globe came together, united by their shared passion for academia and celebration. It was the start of an incredible week, and the excitement was evident as new friendships and memories were created.

"I believe that amidst all the events, the 'Let's Glow Crazy: Glow Party' added a luminous touch to the celebration,” Alle continued. “It was beautiful to see all the neon lights where graduate students enjoyed the wholesome celebration with food and photo props. It was beautiful to see all of us graduate students enjoying the grand iFest organized by OGISL. Everything was enjoyable, from the food to the performances, and it was a proud moment to see so many Indians representing our country, culture, and knowledge in the United States. This was a moment we celebrated diversity, and it was beautiful to see that.”

‘I look forward to returning to these events’

Vashish Bansee ’24 M.A., International Student Liaison with OGISL, was happy to help create a successful Graduate Appreciation Week for the students.

"It was a pleasure to host the iFest for the second time in a row and to be an active volunteer, organizer, and member of GAW 2024,” said Bansee. “It truly brought a wealth of not only experiences but joy to know that I was able to be part of such an amazing festival and the overall GAW. I love being able to be part of such events and being able to put on successful activities.

“Knowing that it was my last time as a student facilitating, organizing, and being part of these events, it was an emotional feeling,” continued Bansee. “I look forward to returning to these events as a guest. The University always does a lot for its graduate international students, which I believe is a great way for international students to acclimate to the University's social events and dive deeper into learning about new cultures while studying in the United States.”

A band performs as part of iFest.
A band performs as part of iFest.
‘A resounding success’

Anish Vedant ’25 M.S., head of community outreach for the Indian Student Council, was thrilled to be an active part of Graduate Appreciation Week and iFest. Vedant was excited to attend the kick-off and was happy to see enthusiasm shared by every other graduate student. He also commended the idea of the student showcase, which he believes is very informative, enlightening, and motivating for all the participants.

"On the day of the iFest, we were busy setting up our table and ensuring that all of the preparations were in place,” recalls Vedant. “It was my first iFest event at the University, and I was unsure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to witness people from all corners of the globe showcasing their unique cultures through their attire. It was heartening to see individuals from America and around the world eager to exchange cultural experiences. Our booth represented four regions of our country, where the President and many University of New Haven community members engaged with us. We were so happy to see students' active participation, showcasing their remarkable talents through singing and dancing performances."

Chargers won prizes during GAW.
Chargers won prizes during GAW.

Graduate Appreciation Week also had exciting elements, such as gifts and goodies presented to the lucky winners, which were awarded through raffles. Gifts such as a Fire T.V., Apple iPad, Nintendo Switch, Stanley Cups, etc., were awarded to the lucky winners, which enhanced the overall excitement of GAW.

"iFest was a resounding success, culminating in a lively dance performance by the ISC group,” said Vedant. “Everyone left the event with a huge smile, thoroughly enjoying the festivities. The 44th Annual International Festival was a memorable and joyous occasion for all.”

Anchal Bhatia ’24 MBA is a candidate in the University’s MBA program.