26th World Festival week celebrates diversity

Dozens of curious students surrounded a tiny stage to watch performances by international students and local cultural organizations Thursday outside the Student Services Building at the Tempe Campus.

During the 26th Annual World Festival week, students could partake in unique ethnic foods and learn about different cultures that are a very present part of ASU and the surrounding community.

The entire week’s events culminated with the world feature that featured booths showcasing organizations and performances and food from several different cultures.  

The week-long celebration aimed to celebrate cultural diversity and help introduce students to other cultures on campus and in the community.

Monica Keyes, coordinator senior with the International Student Engagement Office, said the purpose of the annual week-long event is to educate students about cultural diversity and to support and enrich the university’s goal of producing globally diverse individuals.

“It’s a long-standing University tradition,” she said. “One of the eight design aspirations (of the New American University) is to engage globally. I think this is directly in line with internationalizing the campus (and) just taking advantage of the international community that ASU has.”

This year’s World Festival Week focused more heavily on cultural organizations in the community than on student organizations.

The world fair on Thursday centered on local cultural organizations.

“There’s about 15 different organizations here, mostly from the community as we try to connect ASU domestic and international students,” Keyes said.

However, student organizations were not left out of the week-long celebration.

The Coalition of International Students hosted an International Carnival at the Memorial Union Feb. 21.

“It went really well,” Keyes said. “At one time, we probably had 250 people in the basement of the MU. I think they really enjoyed it, (and) they really appreciate the chance to see other cultures at ASU.”

Events such as World Festival Week not only introduce students to other cultures, but help international students establish a stronger connection with the University and make them feel more at home, Keyes said.

“The international students travel for thousands of miles, and a lot of times they don’t go home for several months and so anytime that they see the other cultures or other people from similar cultures that they can identify with, that makes them feel a little bit closer to home,” she said.

Xin Zhou, International Student Engagement coordinator, said the event is a wonderful way for students and communities to showcase the diverse human capital that flourishes on campus and in the community.

“This showcases all the diverse culture at ASU and also we are connecting with the community,” Zhou said.

Justin Hongeva, an American Indian Studies graduate student majoring in and a member of the Hopi tribe, ran a booth selling fry bread. He is a member of the American Indian Council, a coalition of several American Indian Student organizations.

Hongeva said the event gives him and his organization the chance to get exposure on campus.

“The primary focus of this is to bring attention and networking,” he said. “It helps the school just to raise awareness about native people and about the club.”

Hongeva said it is important to draw attention to American Indian clubs on campus and in the community because they are often overlooked.

He said he wants his fellow students to know that his people are still present and thriving, and that they still maintain many of their traditions, their language and their religious beliefs.

“I think that native people are the most overlooked and the most underrepresented not only at ASU, but in the country, and it kind of doesn’t make sense to me because we were the first people here on this continent,” he said. “I think that this reminds people that we’re still here and it helps our club just get exposure. I just think it’s a great event, and it helps us out a lot.”

Contact the reporter at stewart.stewart@asu.edu of follow her on Twitter @Melissa152163

Correction: Because of a reporting error, Monica Keyes was misquoted in one quote in this story. It’s been corrected.