International Week focuses on various cultures

Many countries were represented in the events during International Week, including France, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Iran and the Philippines.

Anneke Johnson

International Week at Iowa State will come to an end Friday with International Night, an event taking place 6:30 to 11 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

International Week is presented by the International Student Council and various international and multicultural student organizations at Iowa State. It allows attendees to learn about other cultures through various interactive experiences.

The International Student Council website asks, “Do you want to travel other countries, but are low on funds? Feel curious to learn about other cultures? Crave food from different countries?”

The week began on Sunday with “World Cuisine — Around the World in 30 Dishes” in the South Ballroom of the Memorial Union. At the event, attendees could sample foods from different parts of the world after buying food coupons for $0.50 each. 

According to the event press release, funds from the event were allocated to the International Student Council scholarships, which aid international students who have contributed to the international community at Iowa State.

One group, the Filipino-American Association, was raising funds at their booth for those in need after a recent series of earthquakes in the Philippines, which killed at least 14 people, according to CNN.

Countries represented by student groups at the event included China, the Philippines, France, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea and India. Each student group displayed a flag and multiple food items from the country they were representing.

Attendees sampled a wide variety of foods. Some were more well known, such as bubble tea and hot chocolate. Others were likely new for many people: mango lassi, turon, halo halo, arroz caldo, lu rou fan, Che Thai and falooda. 

“The Philippines is known for its food, and we just wanted to bring the food to other people here,” said Ralph Rapanut, senior in civil engineering.

Rapanut was with the Filipino Student Association, which was serving halo halo and arroz caldo.

Daniel Sea, sophomore in marketing, said the Korean Student Association was serving spicy rice cakes and spam mayo rice balls as a way to exchange their culture.

“We are Sankalp and are a volunteer organization on campus, and we raise funds to support sustainable causes back in India,” said Abinayaa Dhanagopal, aerospace engineering graduate student. “This is part of our volunteer efforts, and this is our third year participating in this. We made butter chicken, which is the signature dish we do every year, and we made veggie cutlets.”

Mike Shau, junior in mechanical engineering, said the Malaysian Student Association was serving chicken satay and halal chicken noodle soup and was at the event to promote Malaysian culture.

“World Cuisine” drew a large crowd of over 200 people over the three hour event, filling the South Ballroom with students interested in international dishes.

Alejandra Flores, sophomore in political science and history, organized the event.

“I’m new to International Student Council, so the planning was a lot of learning from past members,” Flores said. “I have been to the event before but have never organized it. It was a lot of contacting catering, event planning and getting the space. The groups actually cook all their own food, so there is a lot of preparation to get it here.”

The second event, “Bazaar and Game Night,” took place Monday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. Student organizations representing different countries brought information and various activities for attendees to try. 

Six student organizations participated in the event, including the Vietnamese International Student Association, the Iranian Students’ and Scholars’ Association, the Arab Students’ Association, Hindu Yuva, the Japan Association and the Pakistan-Student Association.

The Vietnamese International Student Association brought a game called Tien Len and a board to provide information on the war between Vietnam and China, which occurred around the year 900. 

The Arab Student Association gave students henna tattoos as a representation of their culture. Henna, a form of temporary body art, is typically used for weddings and other types of celebrations, said Joyee Leong, junior in chemical engineering and a member of the International Student Council.

Hindu Yuva brought a game called Kanche. Kanche is a popular game from the ’90s that uses marbles. Players place their marbles in a circle and try to hit others’ marbles out.

The Japanese Association brought a poster on Japan’s most popular anime and video game franchises and had a poll on attendees’ favorite anime shows. They brought three activities: kamizumo, kendama and origami.

The Pakistan-Student Association presented their culture by bringing a history board and displaying traditional clothing from Pakistan. One of their representatives — chemistry graduate student Qamar Farooq — also wrote people’s names out in their native language, Urdu.

“Both of [the events] went pretty well […] despite the weather on Monday,” said Taylor Nguyen, sophomore in math and organizer of the “Bazaar and Game Night” event.

Many students commented positively on International Week, praising it for spreading awareness of different cultures and for celebrating the diversity of Iowa State’s student body.

“I think it’s a very meaningful week where a lot of cultures are being shown,” Nguyen said. “And a lot of multicultural student organizations, they can show their cultures, talk about the organizations and talk about the countries. And from that, a lot of people get to know that there’s a variety of different cultures in the world.”

Ashish Gorthy, computer science graduate student, said the “Bazaar and Game Night” reminded him of India, where there are a lot of different cultures present.

“I am not an international student, but I grew up in Mexico,” Flores said. “I’ve always wanted to spread awareness of cultures and appreciation for their differences. International week really does that really well.” 

The final event, International Night, will feature plenty of activities such as dancing, free food, karaoke and various performances, including a fashion show featuring clothing from around the world, Nguyen and Flores said. It will take place from 6:30 to 11 p.m. with free admission.

“There will be free food, and you don’t need to be an international student to attend this event; in fact, we encourage the Iowa State and Ames community to have fun and learn about others’ cultures through food, performances, activities and much more,” said Yekaterina Vang, senior in chemical engineering and president of the International Student Council.