This year’s International Festival at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was a huge success. Held in the Activity Center on Feb. 23, close to 400 students, professors, and community members alike came to enjoy great food and expand their horizons. Close to 140 students, both international and domestic, helped out and prepared food from a range of different countries to share with the festival goers. Foods like Krispy Kreme donuts, curry, miso soup, and pierogi were served, representing about 20 countries total from five different continents. Everyone was happy to go and share their experiences and culture.

While people enjoyed their international fare, several groups were lined up to share dances from around the world. The Prescott International Folk Dancers were back again performing several folk dances and showing of their beautiful costumes. Jewel of the Desert Belly Dance drew the eyes of the auditorium with their exotic movements and sword dance. The Hawaii Club from ERAU come to represent their island with a dramatic tribal dance. Unexpectedly, many of the students from Saudi Arabia got up to dance to some music from their home. It looked like they were having a good time. All the performances were interesting and showed a wide range of dance styles. Dancer Cathy Gits, from The Prescott International Folk Dancers, said “[she] really enjoyed watching the students perform.”

The festival was not just food and dancing though, there were several tables set up in the auditorium with activities and information for people to explore. Face painting was staffed by students ready to paint a country’s flag of your choosing; they were even happy to give you more than one if you were feeling worldly. Next to the face painting was a table where you could get your name written in another language. A few tables were filled with information and travel pamphlets about a few of the countries represented were open for anyone to take home with them. Another table advertized several study abroad opportunities available through ERAU or the community. A special table was dedicated to the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys/Dreams. This program provides books to libraries to increase cross-cultural understanding of Muslim art, religion, and culture. Rounding off these tables was the Student Veterans Association. A few veterans were there to tell people about their experiences overseas and to show off some pictures from Iraq/Baghdad, Kuwait, and Qatar.

Debi Parris, International Student Coordinator, said she loved the Saudi Arabian guys dancing and that the food was “phenomenal.” She felt the festival this year went very well and that nearly 400 people attended, not including the students who helped out. The Center for International Programs and Services will have their work cut out for them if they want to top this festival next year. This was a great opportunity for people to learn about many different countries at once. It allowed for the international students to share a piece of their home with the rest of the ERAU community.

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