All Around the World in One Quad: International Fest Hits SMC Campus

Colorful sweets such as Madeleines from France, baklava from Greece, oatmeal cookies from the United States and chocolates from Belgium covered tables on the Quad at Santa Monica College yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday marked the ninth annual hosting of International Education Week at SMC, currently hosting international studentsfrom over 70 different counties, and the deserts were displayed to draw students in.

"I didn't even know that there were a lot of international students at SMC," said Crystal Olvera, 18. "There was a lot of sweets… some that I have never tasted," said Sindy  Bradeo, 21.

IEW helps make people aware of the vast number of international students at SMC. According to U.S. Department of State, California is the number one state to host international students.

Claudia Garcia, 19, said, "This is my first year at SMC and I am getting to know a lot of international students and about different cultures."

There are "many contributions that international students make to our schools and our communities," said SMC's Dean of International Education, Denise Kinsella.

Kinsella continued, "All of the students who come to SMC from different countries bring a deep knowledge of their own culture and their history, which helps us broaden our perspective."

It is important to host IEW in order for students to be aware of the support that they can give to international students, who, according to Kinsella, face the challenge of living in a new culture and studying in a different language without the presence of family or friends.

But despite these challenges, the international students who come to the U.S. to study are here to follow their dreams and to achieve their goals. And in doing so, the international students help prepare Americans to live and work in a global environment.

International Education Committee staff member, Teresa Morris, said, "It's all exciting. It's so much fun to do this event because you have all of the different cultures represented in the dances and the different foods that are available." According to Morris, the crowd each year gets larger and will probably be even larger next year.

Next to the table of cookies and chocolates from all over the world was a table with games and quizzes provided by the U.S. Department of State.

To show pride in their culture differences, various students of the International Club wore garments that represented their own backgrounds and culture.

SMC student Jutti Collet, 18, who is from Cote-d'Ivoire, Africa, wore an elegant dress representing the Dyula people, who live north of the Ivory Coast. Collet modeled the poise and grace of women in the culture. She wore a Baoulé golden necklace, which added the final touch of elegance to her ensemble.

"Chocolate!" said Collet, when asked what the festival represented to her. She later specified that she was very thankful for the International Festival because it informs different students about all the cultures represented on our campus.

Aside from the variety of food options and attire saluting international students, the festival picked up when dancers from the student troupe Folklórico de SMC represented cultures around the world with a variety of dances.

Each dance evoked the emotions and energy of various heritages, including Indian, Chinese, and Latino. The Bollywood East Indian kick-off dance was an eclectic fusion of classical folk and hip hop that included a couple of steps from the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

The East Indian Bollywood dance performed by the student-lead troupe Folklórico de SMC symbolized bringing water to drought-ridden villages.

After an enticing Indian Bollywood dance, the troupe took the audience to Mexico by showing a dance from the state of Nayarit. The dance symbolized the work that the Nayarit men did in the fields by harvesting the crops, while the women showed off the movements of their femininity.

The outfits that the Nayarit dancers wore dated back to the Victorian time, which represented the fuse of early European and Spanish descent.

After the Nayarit dance, Jade Gao, SMC's first-year dance choreographer, showed the audience the peacefulness and serenity of Chinese dance. She included fluid-like water movements and incorporated ribbon dances to show the slow movements of water.

Not only did students from SMC attend the international fest, but neighboring students from Grant Elementary on 24th Street and Pearl Street also attended the event.

The last dance was a salsa compilation dance that was put on by various students of the SMC dance troupe. They were later joined by audience members and Mr.'s Sanders' first grade class.

Elizabeth Sanders and her students participate in folk dance classes. Sanders said,  "It's a good opportunity for the kids to see different types of dances performed by an older crowd."

The festival succeeded in providing all of these students with the opportunity to experience some of the many cultures that permeate this campus.