The Festival of Nations was held by USD’s International Club on Sunday evening in the Muenster University Center (MUC) ballroom and welcomed students and Vermillion residents. The event included food, music, games and the opportunity to experience new cultures from around the world.
Over 30 countries were represented by individuals who prepared dishes from their home nation. International Club president, Muntasir Mamun, said the mission of the festival was to bring people of different cultures together and introduce the unique traditions of various countries.
“There is lots of diversity and cultural opportunities at this gathering and people can learn about others’ cultures which can be so informative and insightful. It’s amazing to see so many people come together and want to learn about new traditions,” Mamun said.
Mamun worked with other members of the International Club to organize this year’s festival. He said the celebration continues to be one of USD’s largest campus events.
“I find this event to be very special because it is a chance for other people from different cultures to share their traditions,” Mamun said. “People get to know each other and their backgrounds through trying their foods, watching performances or just by simply talking with them.”
Guests enjoyed dishes from an array of cultures. From German “Rotkohl,” a cooked red cabbage recipe to Tunisian “Couscous,” a traditional Tunisian pasta, there was no shortage in the variety of recipes for people to try.
Selma Essafi, a Tunisian international student, prepared her mother’s recipe for Couscous, made from fine wheat grains and topped with coriander salt, Perissa and vegetables. Essafi said any meat can be added to the dish and it is perfect for any occasion.
“I’m very happy people came and weren’t afraid to try new things here,” Essafi said. “This is my first time cooking for the festival and everyone is so supportive of one another.”
In addition to the multitude of cuisines, attendees were able to enjoy a live singing performance by Ukrainian international student Oleksandra Lukina followed by cultural dances from Bangladesh and Nepal. Sable Schulz, a first time participant of the festival, said she encourages everyone to step out of their comfort zone and this celebration is a great opportunity to do so.
“There are so many different kinds of food here. It’s incredible to see so many different cultures and traditions. The performances were spectacular and so much fun to watch. It’s a really good way to see other cultures and have them all in one place,” Schulz said.
Following the mealtime, the festival held interactive games for participants to join. Attendees took part in playing “Loteria”, a Mexican game similar to Bingo, for a chance to win prizes. Players were to shout out “¡Buenas!” once they had four of the called pictures in a row. Trivia questions about various countries concluded the evening.
Danielle Konechne, the International Club’s vice president shared her thanks with everyone who took part in the festival. She said while this would be her last big event at USD, she is happy she was able to be a part of this year’s festival.
“This event is one of my personal favorites and I am so thankful for everyone who was able to come. I am so thankful for the lifelong friends and unforgettable memories I have made through this organization,” Konechne said.
Mamun and Konechne both encourage people to get involved with a campus club or organization. Mamun said he is excited to see what next year’s festival will bring and to see the future growth in awareness and participation of the event.