Westminster's International Festival: cultural catwalk, drums and dumplings

Students participate in a cultural dance activity at the annual International Festival in the Dumke Field House at Westminster College. Nine countries outside of the United States are represented at Westminster: Brazil, Cambodia, China, Italy, Kazakhstan, Norway, Qatar, Russia and the United Kingdom. Photos by Marni Harbrecht

Students participate in a cultural dance activity at the annual International Festival in the Dumke Field House at Westminster College. Nine countries outside of the United States are represented at Westminster: Brazil, Cambodia, China, Italy, Kazakhstan, Norway, Qatar, Russia and the United Kingdom. Photos by Marni Harbrecht

For anyone walking into the Dumke Field House on March 4, the usual sound of referee whistles and spectators cheering on their favorite athletes was replaced with 15 synchronized drummers, food from five countries and students and community members dancing in a circle to celebrate diversity.

Westminster ASW.Events celebrated multiple cultures in its annual International Festival. This year's theme was "Legends of the World" and the festival showcased food, activities and performances from five countries: France, Israel, Japan, Mexico and Nepal.

Diwas Poudel, a first-year student and one of the representatives for Nepal, set up a booth displaying the country's flag and traditional food alongside pictures of its landscape.

"This is an interesting event," Poudel said. "We get to represent our country, which makes us feel closer to our country, as well. Coming here to the United States we get to represent our country, and it’s a really great thing."

ASW.Events celebrated multiple cultures at its annual International Festival on March 4. This year’s theme was "Legends of the World," and the festival showcased food, activities and performances from five countries: France, Israel, Japan, Mexico and Nepal.

ASW.Events celebrated multiple cultures at its annual International Festival on March 4. This year’s theme was "Legends of the World," and the festival showcased food, activities and performances from five countries: France, Israel, Japan, Mexico and Nepal.

Poudel and two other students represented Nepal at its booth, where the traditional dumplings seemed to be a crowd pleaser.

"I love the International Fest," said Griffin Mullin, a sophomore neuroscience major. "I'm currently eating a dumpling right now and it tastes delicious. My Nepalese homies gave me the dumplings."

Aside from the crowd-pleasing dumplings and students lining up for free henna tattoos, one of the festival's newest and more popular events featured a cultural fashion show.

Diana Mavlanova, a junior nursing major, organized the fashion show with international students and community members. The outfits in the show represented more countries than the five booths did, providing the audience with exposure to other cultures.

"I thought [the fashion show] was the best," Mavlanova said. "I was the one who organized it. We just emailed all international students and posted on our Facebook pages and those who replied joined us. I think it represents diversity—and now-a-days, with our current president, I think it is very important. I think we should continue to do it every year."

Some of the students who attended the festival and who represented different countries for the event said Westminster provides a diverse space for students to learn both inside and outside the classroom.

Westminster is comprised of 55 percent Utah residents and 42 percent out-of-state and non-U.S. students, according to Westminster's website. There are nine other countries represented at Westminster: Brazil, Cambodia, China, Italy, Kazakhstan, Norway, Qatar, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Though Westminster's International Fest provided insight into new cultures, Poudel said there's room for more cultural exchange at the college.

"There's a lot more to learn," he said. "Going to Westminster where we have such a diverse culture, I like being able to become familiar with all the other cultures. It helps me a lot to be able to understand their cultures. Westminster is providing a good background for me to learn all those things without going to those countries. We have a really diverse community here."