When senior Kilpana Prajapati came to the University of South Dakota three years ago from Nepal, she wanted to get involved in the annual Festival of Nations to show her culture and its food to others.
“It’s important to know other cultures because there are people coming from different countries to the United States and people here are going to other places,” Prajapati said. “It’s important for both international and national people to know about other cultures and food.”
The Festival of Nations, sponsored by the International Students Club, is an annual spring event that celebrates the diversity on Carrie Prentice, campus assistant professor and club adviser, said
“I think we often do not see how many people we have from different countries and cultures here,” Prentice said. “We don’t give them an opportunity to celebrate those differences. Through dress, food and entertainment, we get to appreciate the enormous diversity we have here that is not often seen.”
For her second year in the festival, Prajapati, a computer science major, will not only be serving traditional food from her home country, but will also be performing a dance.
“I will be dancing with an eight-year-old girl from Sioux City, Maya Diswokarma, who is also from Nepal,” Prajapati said.
Prentice said the festival will offer more dancing and other performances this year, just one of the few subtle changes from last year.
“We have a broader range of cooks cooking this year,” Prentice said. “We’re going to control the serving a little better. Last year, it was sort of a mess because people got up all at once.”
This year, Prentice said announcers will call up the tables individually.
“We want to give everybody an opportunity to access the food more,” Prentice said. “It’s a better situation for everybody.”
Second-year graduate student Heather Siebert, International Students Club secretary, said she got involved with the club after studying abroad in Spain as an undergraduate.
“When I came back from Spain, I knew I wanted to stay involved with international students,” Siebert said. “I loved the community and I liked being connected to different people in that way. I’m also really interested in learning about different cultures.”
Siebert, who helps with the food for the event, said the club has held two meetings to help prepare the cooks for the crowd.
“We’re hoping to get at least 200 people but hopefully 250,” Siebert said. “We hope that it will be an enjoyable evening of entertainment for the community and it’s open to everybody here in town. It’s a celebration of diversity on the USD campus, an opportunity to learn about other cultures and to celebrate what we have here.”
Prajapati, who is graduating in August, said she is very excited for this year’s festival because it gives students a chance to get to know different cultures, foods and people from different countries.
“These are only the students that have come all the way to this country that have come here to get an education,” Prajapati said. “It’s a good opportunity to come and visit people from the outside world.”
Reach reporter Josie Clarey at Josie.Clarey@usd.edu.