The International Student’s Association and the Office of International Programs hosted the 25th annual Culturefest, an afternoon event that highlights numerous cultures and countries through exhibits, food, music, performances and activities.
Hundreds attended the Oct. 27 event, which took place in the University of Maine Memorial Gym and Field House. The food court, children’s area and exhibit tables were some of the many points of interest at Culturefest.
Attendees visited with representatives from different countries and student organizations, browsing through various pamphlets, photos and cultural artifacts that were on display. Everything from henna tattoos at the Muslim Student Association table to samples of carlota, a Mexican dessert, at the Mexico table was included.
“I think it’s a good idea to introduce people to Mexican culture, just so they have another view of Mexico,” said Karolehen Cruz, a representative from the Mexico table and UMaine biology student. “It’s a really beautiful place to go.”
The event hosted a food court that served dishes from countries all over the world. Some of the foods that were available included empanadas from Chile, moi moi from Nigeria, a build-your-own poutine stand hosted by Club Canada and meat pies from Australia.
“Not a lot of people get to go to Australia,” said Mary Rosser, a native of Queensland, Australia, and host at the Australia table, “so we try to bring a little taste of it to Maine.”
A panel of judges sampled food to determine the best dishes in a number of categories. The award for best food went to Sri Lanka and best dessert went to Bulgaria.
There were also various family activities available, such as Chinese lettering, origami, face painting, and cricket and capoeira demonstrations. Elitsa Stoyneva introduced children to traditional Bulgarian clothing, music and dance.
Throughout the afternoon, many performers stepped onto the stage to present traditional songs and dances from the countries they represented.
Roghaiyeh Kalan performed an Azerbaijani dance in an embroidered dress of green and gold that fluttered when she spun across the stage. Vincent Hu, in an unassuming grey T-shirt and jeans, managed to grab the attention of many attendees with his captivating performance of a traditional Chinese song.
Children jumped onto the stage between performances, dancing along to the multicultural soundtrack that played throughout the field house.
“I think it’s wonderful to bring together different people from different cultural backgrounds,” Rosser said. “On our campus you don’t get such a sense of it because people are spread out doing their own thing, but when we all come together for functions like this we do get a sense of who we are as a campus, and I think that’s really important.”
At the end of the event, there was a display of the clothing from many of the represented countries in a fashion show. There were thwabs and keffiyehs from Saudi Arabia, kimonos from Japan, sequined saris from Nepal and India, dashikis from Africa and many other traditional outfits on display.
Sarah Joughin, the international student and scholar advisor at UMaine, was an emcee at the fashion show and thanked everyone who attended the event.
“We could not have a festival like this if we didn’t have wonderful people to come and enjoy it,” Joughin said.
Culturefest is part of International Week and was sponsored in part by the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series, Student Government, Division of Student Affairs and Residents on Campus.
The Office of International Programs and the International Student Association host many multicultural events throughout the school year. The next event will be the 2013 University of Maine International Dance Festival on Feb. 16 at the Collins Center for the Arts.