International Festival showcases cultures from around the world


Phuong Anh Do

Marshall students and community members experienced a variety of cultures at the 56th annual International Festival Nov. 9 in the Memorial Student Center.

Food, culture and fashion from around the world attracted guests to the 56th annual International Festival on Saturday, Nov. 9 in the Memorial Student Center.

The event is the largest and longest-running international festival in West Virginia that encourages students and community members to explore and learn from different cultures and traditions, according to Jyotsna Patel, program coordinator for the Office of International Student Services at Marshall.

“The festival is to unite people and learn about different cultures and tradition,” Patel said. “This year, we have more than twenty countries tabled.”

Students from different parts of the world participated in the festival and brought their unique cultures and country-specific items. I-Hsin Huang, a student from Taiwan, said the event is a chance for Taiwanese students to introduce their country to the world.

“This is a good time to promote our country,” Huang said. “Our country is pretty small, I believe that after this festival, there will be many people (who) know about Taiwan. And also, today I wear our traditional outfit, and many people take picture with me, and I feel very warm and cozy this day.”

For many people, the festival is not only a place to connect people of different backgrounds together, but also a place where local friends can ask questions without making others feel offended. 

“I’d been an international student advisor, so I love to visit cultures when I can’t travel,” Kathy Eckstam-ames, a visitor, said. “I believe an event like this, it bridges one culture with another culture. And this is a safe space to be able to ask questions of another culture. The people are very open and willing to open the questions no matter if they’re (about) their symbols or details. It provides good fellowship across cultures.” 

Ben Powell, a Marshall visual arts major, said the festival has advantages for both the international students and the community.

“It gives international friends the chance to showcase their cultures to people from here in West Virginia, and it’s good for us because we should have interest to coming up to things like this to be able to learn more,” Powell said. 

Many performances and entertainments had been showcased to feature international dances, music and a fashion show with traditional clothing. 

“This year we have more entertainments,” Patel said. “We are really happy with the turn out today. We have more people from different areas than just the tri-state region this time.”

The international festival is organized by the Offices of International Student Services. 

Phuong Anh Do can be contacted at [email protected]