Festival of Nations creates togetherness during pandemic
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Festival of Nations creates togetherness during pandemic

The International Club hosted its biggest annual event, the Festival of Nations, March 21. The event typically has about 350 attendees, however, due to COVID-19, the MUC ballroom had limited seating of 100 people. 

Senior medical biology and psychology major and International Club Vice President, Sara Lane, said Festival of Nations serves to embody what the International Club stands for by advocating for international students and spreading awareness of different cultures to USD. 

“We do have quite a few international students but not as big of a student body as some schools,” Lane said. “So, I think there is a real need for it.” 

In past years Festival of Nations offered different cultural dishes made by international students. To take precautions during the pandemic, the international club decided to order food from local vendors instead. 

Diana Reyes, senior health science major and International Club events coordinator, said they ordered cultural cuisines from local restaurants like Silk Road, Café Brule and Hot Plate. 

“A challenge was getting food. People like to make their own food and show what it’s like and it might not be as traditional,” Reyes said. 

Festival of Nations had COVID-19 friendly games such as a scavenger hunt and Spanish bingo, called Loteria, for attendees to partake in. 

Attendees were offered goodie bags with origami and a QR code to explain how to create the different animals. 

“We have candies from around the world. I found mango candy from India, strawberry ones from Mexico, globe chocolates and fortune cookies,” Reyes said. 

Lane said students could not get as involved as they have in years past because of COVID-19.

Usually, international students will dress in clothing matching specific cultures and perform a song, a dance or play an instrument that highlights their cultures. However, this year included prerecording’s of past performances at the event. 

Members of the International Club individually created videos that were displayed along with the performer’s videos. 

“For performers, it would be cool to be live, some people don’t feel comfortable recording themselves and showing it on a big screen. They might prefer to be in person,” Reyes said, “So that has been a little bit challenging.” 

Reyes encourages students to interact with the International Club and the students involved in it. 

“Learn about other cultures, get out of your bubble a bit,” Reyes said. “There’s so many great things people will talk about and they are inviting.”