North Texas Daily

Celebration helps students embrace international unity

Celebration helps students embrace international unity

Celebration helps students embrace international unity
April 07
00:00 2015

Steven James / Senior staff writer

International students from 75 countries will showcase their countries’ foods, films, art styles and spring celebrations during UNT’s Great Global Citizens Month.

This will be UNT’s fourth consecutive year to celebrate. UNT Dining Services, UNT Sustainability, the International Welcome Center, the Pakistani Student Association, the Korean Culture Exchange, the College of Music and the Division of Student Affairs are among the groups running the month-long celebration.

International Center director Olga Grieco said the celebration began 35 years ago as International Week, but four years ago the welcome center and the division of diversity and sustainability combined efforts to create comprehensive internationalization, a process that combines an institution’s different programs and ideologies.

“The reason we called it Great Global Citizens Month is we thought we would give [students] an overall experience of the world and ideas and being diverse,” Grieco said. “I remember bringing some of the international students home with me and my son and my daughter would ask me, “I have to talk to them?” and I would say, ‘Just tell them about yourself.’ They now thank me for that experience.”

Grieco said UNT has students from 120 countries, but not every country signed up to participate in the month.

Global Grounds Café is an event in which students from a particular country will register to give presentations about the food and lifestyles of their country, and what makes their country unique. Grieco said this is the first time Iran and Italy will host their own Global Grounds Cafés.

Mechanical and energy engineering senior Ahmad Shabbar, who is also the Pakistani Student Association president, is volunteering. Shabbar said almost every event for the month will have food, and people can visit UNT International on Facebook to get daily updates about the month’s events.

Pakistani Association is hosting is the BASANT Kite Festival at North Lakes Park, Pavilion 3 from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 11.

Shabbar said BASANT is an annual spring festival that is tradition in Pakistan and India. BASANT is supposed to mark the beginning of spring, but is also done for religious purposes.

“Pakistanis, Americans and Indians, they all show up and they have competitions if they want to,” Shabbar said. “A kite competition is not who can fly their kite the best or who has the best-looking kite. It’s basically who can cut the other person’s kite off [of the string].”

Shabbar said some people even glaze their kites with glass and wear gloves while flying their kites. The festival will include traditional Pakistani music, henna paintings and food.

“It doesn’t have to just be international students,” he said. “We want to break that impression. We want other students to come in and join us and learn as well.”

BCIS junior and peer mentor Rabia Inayat is in charge of the International Food Fair. The food fair is today at the Denton Wesley Foundation United Methodist Center, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Inayat said people will have to buy tickets at the door, and students and organizations will be charging money for the foods they are serving. The countries listed include Nigeria, South Korea, Nepal, Pakistan and China. She also said people are not allowed to cook at the fair, and there is not refrigeration.

“You’re sharing your food, and everybody likes food,” Inayat said. “Basically, you’re sharing your culture with the people around here.”

The Korean Culture Festival will be at the Library Mall from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Merchandising junior Simone Lott, who is also the event coordinator for the Korean Culture Exchange, said students will be able to try on a traditional dress, humbak, and will have the opportunity to try foods such as gimbap.

Lott also said she does not like certain misperceptions people have about Korean culture, especially with knowing the differences between North Korea and South Korea.

“We can’t have a global community with people who can’t open their minds up and understand that we’re speaking different languages, we’re eating different foods, but we’re all people,” she said. “I would hate for someone to make a predetermined opinion about me without getting to know me or my culture.”

The Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures is in charge of the International Animation Film Festival. The festival is headed by world languages, literatures and cultures lecturer Tatiana Filosofova, who is also the festival’s committee chair.

Films will be shown in Language 107 and 107A. Each screening will take place from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Discussions will take place after the showings.

Discussions will take place with faculty members and honored guests, including internationally recognized artist Jeanne Stern.

The first film of the festival, shown yesterday, was “The Red, White and Blue Smurfs,” which focused on the complications of bringing the Smurfs from Belgium to Hollywood.

Other films include “World of Animation,” “Felidae,” “Destino,” “The Wind Rises” and “Hedgehog in the Fog.”

“We ask the faculty to choose the films that best represent aspects of the culture and according to them, the best,” Filosofova said.

She also said she hopes students from different departments will come watch the films.

“We hope that students will be infused by the films, and learn more about China, Japan, Germany, France or Russia,” she said.

Global Citizens Month is the University Day and Native Dress and Flag Parade, which will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 17. Students will begin marching at Sycamore Hall, travel through campus, and then end at the Library Mall.

Toward the end of the march, students will walk under an arch, after which an announcer will shout the name of the country. Shabbar said the welcome center is still looking for an American student or group of students to carry the American flag.

“It mainly gives you deeper understanding for other people,” said entrepreneurship junior Hamza Aljawi, who is from Saudi Arabia. “It’s just fun to be there and learn about other cultures.”

Other events for Global Citizens Month includes the 18th Annual African Cultural Festival on April 11 at 8 p.m., the Japanese Spring Festival on April 21 from 2 to 7 p.m., the Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and Latin Jazz Ensembles on April 19 at 6:30 p.m., Culture Shock Fest by FACES on April 24 from 4 to 8 p.m. and the EarthFest International Fair Market on April 22 from 4 to 7 p.m.

“We want our UNT students to get involved in different cultures and ideas and to have a broader perspective on life,” Grieco said.

Featured Image: Participants of the global citizen month march through the Library Mall. Photo courtesy of UNT News

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