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Marshall’s 55th annual International Festival celebrates cultural diversity, exploration

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Marshall’s 55th annual International Festival celebrates cultural diversity, exploration

Marshall's 55th annual International Festival returned to Huntington Saturday in the Memorial Student Center, encouraging and celebrating cultural diversity and exploration.

Marshall's 55th annual International Festival returned to Huntington Saturday in the Memorial Student Center, encouraging and celebrating cultural diversity and exploration.

Douglas Harding

Marshall's 55th annual International Festival returned to Huntington Saturday in the Memorial Student Center, encouraging and celebrating cultural diversity and exploration.

Douglas Harding

Douglas Harding

Marshall's 55th annual International Festival returned to Huntington Saturday in the Memorial Student Center, encouraging and celebrating cultural diversity and exploration.

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West Virginia’s largest international festival featuring foods, music and booths from around the world returned to Marshall University Saturday, Oct. 27, in the Memorial Student Center.

Marshall’s 55th annual International Festival, organized by the Office of International Student Services, encouraged students and residents to explore and learn about the countless countries and cultures on display, Connor Kinder, an English graduate student at Marshall, said.

Kinder, a member of Marshall’s world council and intercultural Hispanic organization, said this year was his first time attending International Festival, but he plans to set up a Mexico booth for the intercultural Hispanic organization at next year’s event.

“There are so many friendly people and different cultures, smells, clothing, foods and colors,” Kinder said. “International Festival really brings something unique to West Virginia, Huntington and Marshall.”

Kinder said International students make up a significant portion of Marshall’s student body and it is important we encourage them to bring their cultures with them, so we can share and learn from each other.

“We have to be more aware of other cultures and people to avoid being narrow-minded,” he said.

Annika Behnke, a first-year accounting major at Marshall, said the festival highlights all the different cultures in Huntington which are too often overlooked by some residents.

Behnke participated in the Japan booth, where she helped teach people how to do origami, play Japanese games like kendama, wear traditional Japanese clothing called yakuta and learn about kendo, a traditional Japanese martial art descendant from swordsmanship.

Behnke said that it is important to learn about other cultures to grow personally while also allowing others to be more comfortable.

“I’m half Japanese and half American,” Behnke said. “And I’ve personally experienced racism here at Marshall on several occasions.”

A lot of people, even around here, experience racism normally, Behnke said, but most people are either too afraid or too uncomfortable to talk about it.

Behnke said people, in the past, have made racist jokes and inappropriate comments toward her regarding her race, and situations like these could be easily avoided by learning about different cultures instead of ignorantly buying into stereotypes.

A lot of times, people say things or have certain misunderstandings they believe are harmless, and they may not even know they could be damaging someone’s self-esteem, Behnke said, highlighting the importance of local multicultural events like International Festival.

Although this was her first year attending, she plans on coming to the festival again next year, Behnke said.

“I’m definitely coming again,” Behnke said. “You should come even if you don’t know much about it. There’s a ton of good food and amazing people, so it will always be a good time.”

Douglas Harding can be contacted at [email protected]

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1 Comment

One Response to “Marshall’s 55th annual International Festival celebrates cultural diversity, exploration”

  1. lance johnson on October 29th, 2018 4:27 pm

    Festivals can make a big difference because being an international student away from home difficult, compounded by our complex culture and language problems. Welcoming and assimilation assistance must come from numerous sources, including the White House, to aid these young people embarking on life’s journey. Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and even informative books to extend a cultural helping hand.
    Something that might help anyone coming to the US is the award-winning worldwide book/ebook “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” Used in foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it identifies how “foreigners” have become successful in the US, including students.
    It explains how to cope with a confusing new culture and friendship process, and daunting classroom differences. It explains how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work with/for an American firm here or overseas.
    It also identifies the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.
    Good luck to all at Marshall or wherever you study or wherever you come from, because that is the TRUE spirit of the American PEOPLE, not a few in government who shout the loudest! Supporters of int’l students must shout louder.

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