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International Festival celebrates culture, promotes unity, according to ASW president

The International Festival, which was the first large event of the year put on by ASW, encouraged students to come together to celebrate the different cultures on campus, according to Leah Stevenson, ASW president and junior nursing major. 

The event took place in the Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness and Athletic Center on Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The festival featured various international foods and several live performances, such as dances and a Mariachi band.

This year’s International Festival was the first one since the coronavirus hit campus in 2020.

“We’ve had international festivals in the past, but due to COVID-19 they got shut down, like a lot of our big events,” Stevenson said. “We’re reintroducing them this year.”

The purpose of the festival was to allow students to share and celebrate their cultural identities with others on campus, according to Stevenson.

“It’s just a great way to celebrate people’s identities,” Stevenson said. “Not a lot of people know how to share their culture with other people. So this is kind of just like, ‘Hey we’re doing all the work for you, just come show up and talk about it with your friends.’”

Sam Schweger Bach, a Brazilian-American, ASW director of programming and junior sociology major, orders bubble tea from Space Tea SLC, who were stationed and served refreshments to students at the International Festival in the Health, Wellness and Athletic Center’s main gym on Wednesday, Oct. 11. “I tried [all the food] here, it was all new,” Schweger Bach said. “It’s nice to see bits and pieces of other cultures because it’s not something [students] are usually exposed to.” Photo courtesy of Kaylynn Gonzalez. Image description: Students stand in line for bubble tea, served by three individuals. Various country flags are taped up to the wall on display in the background.

Stevenson said one of the hopes for the festival was to give international students who could not travel abroad for fall break a semblance of home.

“We wanted to [host the festival] before fall break so that those who come from international backgrounds, maybe who can’t go all the way home just for one week, can have a little piece of home come here,” Stevenson said.

Zakkria Robinson, a junior sociology major, said she enjoyed the festival and the opportunities it presented to try new things.

“I came to experience something different and see the diversity at the school,” Robinson said.

Robinson said her favorite part of the festival was watching the Afro-Brazilian capoeira performance and trying new food.

“My favorite part was the dances and actually seeing the kids being involved in learning it,” Robinson said. “I thought that was really cool.”

Capoeira is “self-defense disguised as a dance,” according to Mestre Jamaika, an internationally recognized practitioner of capoeira and the owner of Salt Lake Capoeira, during his performance at the festival. 

“Brazil was the last place to free my people,” Jamaika said. “People died for this beautiful art form.”

Performers from Salt Lake Capoeira display the Afro-Brazillian cultural dance “capoeira” in front of student onlookers during the International Festival in the Health, Wellness and Athletic Center’s main gym on Wednesday, Oct. 11. “Capoeira is self-defense disguised as a dance,” said Mestre Jamaika, an internationally recognized practitioner of capoeira and the owner of Salt Lake Capoeira, during his performance at the event. Photo courtesy of Kaylynn Gonzalez. Image description: Two people captured in motion, both upside down holding themselves up with their arms, as onlookers sit and stand in the background.

Sam Schweger Bach, ASW director of programming and a junior sociology major who moved from Brazil to the United States seven years ago, said the event was a great opportunity to try new things.

“I tried [all the food] here, it was all new,” Schweger Bach said. “It’s nice to see bits and pieces of other cultures because it’s not something [students] are usually exposed to.”

“It’s a fun festival,” Schweger Bach said. “I’m glad about the turnout. It’s nice to see the international community come together.”

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Kaylynn Gonzalez (she/her) majors in communication. She is a freelance photographer with experience in graphic design. Her work has been published in SLUG Magazine and others. She enjoys being outside, decorating and spending time with her loved ones. If she could be any animal she’d be a pampered house cat.

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