Taala, an event held by the international club celebrating Southern and East Asian cultures, was held Sunday night in the Muenster University Center ballroom.
International club president Talita Fantauzzi, a sophomore media & journalism and international studies double major from Brazil, organized the event to celebrate various cultural demographics found at USD.
“Taala is about representing the smaller countries from this geographical area that many students don’t know much about,” Fantauzzi said. “Many students don’t know much about these smaller countries some international students come from.”
Last year, the event was called Himalayan night, but the international club wanted a name that encompassed a larger variety of cultures.
“Taala means rhythm in Sanskrit, which is the language all other languages in the east developed from, so the international club thought it was a fitting name for the event,” Fantauzzi said.
International students showcased their culture at the event through music, traditional dance and a fashion show.
The event also featured food from different cultures and a tea ceremony.
“We really try to show the importance and beauty of diversity and to help make our international students feel more at home,” Fantauzzi said.
Nikul Vyas, a graduate student from India majoring in computer science, performed at Taala. He sang a traditional Bollywood song from an Indian film.
“I miss the food and the spices of my country, so I was excited for Taala because they had food from my country,” Vyas said.
Nadeesha Illeperuma and her husband are getting their master’s in biology. She said they enjoy living in Vermillion because its people are so friendly.
“My husband came here for school, so I decided to come along,” she said. “The school had the sort of programs we were interested in, and the professors were a perfect fit.”
Jeff Zhang, a junior from Taiwan studying math, also attended Taala. He said as an international student, he struggles with the language barrier.
“My English isn’t very good, we started learning English in first grade, but I didn’t have much regular practice until I got here,” he said. “I miss speaking my first language.”
Nawarathna Rathnayake is a member of the international club and had a role in planning Taala.
“The goal of Taala was to bring more diversity to campus and show the different cultures we have here,” Rathnayake said. “I think it is important for students to attend these events because they will understand more about the different cultures at USD and learn about the international club.”
Fantauzzi said she appreciates the international club because it connects students.
“I decided to join as an executive member because I noticed how important it was to form a community on USD campus between domestic and non-domestic students,” she said. “I thought that was something I could do because I am involved in many things on campus.”
Fantauzzi said she enjoys having a place to feel at home on campus.
“I noticed how important international club was to me because you do get homesick, so it is nice to have a place to go,” she said.
Fantauzzi said many other students at USD benefit from their experiences with the international club.
“Everyone is very accepting and they never discriminate,” Vyas said. “Everyone is broad minded, I have made many friends even if they aren’t in my major.”
Vyas said he’s grateful for the welcoming environment at USD.
“I rarely get homesick because my friends here are like a family to me, USD has never made me feel homesick,” Vyas said. “The CDC is like a second home to me because it has helped me develop myself as a person and meet many great people.”
Rathnayake said she enjoys the international club because of all the people she’s met in it.
“It is like a home for all the students who are homesick,” Rathnayake said. “There are friends around to comfort you and the various events make you feel at home.”