International Street Fest Represents Multiple Cultures


Jason Smith

Event host Gavinya Wijesekera(left) meets with Grisma Niraula(middle) and Arnav Shrestha(right) discussing what is presented on their table at the International Street Festival.

Connie Krupa

The Global Engagement Team (GET) put on an important event called the International Street Fest. This event took place on Thursday, March 31 at 6:00 p.m. in the Gavle rooms. 

The International Street Fest is designed to recognize all cultures on campus. By putting on this event, students were given an opportunity to engage with and learn more about other cultures. This event was filled with a variety of different foods, music and activities in order for students to come and hang out while also gaining a new perspective of the diversity on campus. 

There were multiple tables with food set up while other tables had cultural items. All of the food was up for grabs and people could take as much as they wanted. Anyone could fill their plates with snacks and desserts and sit and enjoy some new foods with their friends. Some of the tables had small desserts like packs of wafers or cookies. Some treats were savory, such as a variety of nuts. All of the clothing was so beautiful and colorful! Overall, there were 13 different cultures represented at the International Street Fest, however, only five of them had tables that shared food and cultural items. 

On top of the food and music, seven different performers came to dance, sing or play different instruments. While some performers were soloists, there were a few groups that did perform. The UNYK dance group also performed at the event. In order to truly connect with different cultures, the performers shared some stories and the cultural significance of their performances by talking a little bit about what they were wearing and why it mattered. 

For junior Gavinya Wijesekera, the MC of the event, maintaining the dynamic of the event took consideration. “Even though we had scheduled in a lot of time in between, we wanted to make sure it was always stimulating to the audience and they never left bored. So we had to schedule in a few unprompted performances to keep the event going,” Wijesekera said. 

Later that night, the performers walked in the International Fashion Show and then spoke a little bit about their outfits and the cultural significance of their apparel. Many items were flowy, colorful and mesmerizing to watch. However, not only the performers wore their cultural outfits! Students and faculty attending the International Street Fest also wore outfits of cultural significance so that more cultures could be represented. 

By sharing multiple cultures on campus, the Augustana community becomes stronger. It is important to learn about different cultures so that everyone feels included and accepted. “I’m an international student myself, so I understand the importance of having events for the international students where they are seen and their cultures are celebrated,” Wijesekera said. “It was important to me to be a part of an event like that and celebrate not only my own culture but the culture of all my friends.”

Members of the Global Engagement Team were there running the event as well. “The goal of ISF (International Street Fest) is to educate about the different cultures on campus in a respectful and fun way. We’d like to use this event to continue to bridge the gap between the domestic and international student population and to promote the student community as a whole,” Emily Luming, junior and member of the Global Engagement Team, said. 

The Global Engagement Team has also put on different events such as Diwali and Holi. However, the International Street Fest was meant to represent more than one culture. “International Street Fest is an event that is meant to showcase all the different cultures represented on campus in one big event! Many of GET’s events focus on hosting celebrations of cultural festivals and holidays from different cultures on Augustana’s campus,” Luming said. “ISF is a bit different than this because it is a completely original event that is designed to be inclusive to everyone. The goal of ISF is to provide international students the space to show off their culture proudly, and for all students to be able to learn about these cultures in a fun and respectful way.” 

Overall, this event offers students an amazing opportunity to engage and learn about other cultures while also enjoying new foods, listening to new music and watching some amazing performers show off their cultures. People attending this event got a chance to talk to the performers, take pictures and try new foods which created an important learning experience that united the campus. 

“Like many events done by and for international students, it was an absolutely lovely celebration of culture,” Wijeskera said. “And I would encourage everyone in Augie to at least come to one, because it’s an experience that you shouldn’t miss.”

Additional reporting by Kayla Palliser.