Almost every college student wants to travel the world, but not everyone gets the chance to. It’s a big commitment of time and money, not to mention a four-hour-plus bumpy plane ride. That’s why the University of West Florida, with the help of the International Student Association, held the sixth annual “UWF Celebrates the World” on Nov. 13 in the Commons.
This two-hour event, inspired by International Education Week, transformed the small room into its own world with booths and signs representing 20 different countries. Flags from all over the world were hung on both walls.
Each country, ranging from Japan to Egypt to Bulgaria, made their own authentic dishes. ISA paid for the ingredients and small groups representing the different countries made the food.
Every country’s booth had something different. Some had billboards with pictures of food and recognizable buildings, and others included interactive elements.
At the South Korean booth, natives volunteered to write people’s names in Korean:
“We only had four people in our group,” said Min Baek, who is from South Korea and is a member of the Intensive English Program. “Making the food only took about thirty minutes.”
On stage, people danced in flowing garments. A man and a woman tapped their feet doing the salsa.
Afterwards, 11 models strutted the runway that circled in front of the Commons in traditional clothing, which they brought from home. Each model smiled as they walked one by one representing their country.
When the models left the stage and my stomach was full from the most recently eaten Birchermüesli, a Swiss oat and yogurt treat, everyone started buzzing about the grand prize that was about to be drawn. It was a brand new Huffy bike with large handlebars and a basket on the front.
After two unclaimed tickets were called out, a clear “566!” was said over the microphone. I looked down at the red ticket that was handed to me upon entering the Commons. 5…6…6.
A little red-faced, I went to the stage and it was confirmed that I had the winning ticket for this fancy set of wheels.
I left the international event feeling like I had traveled the world. I was stuffed with delicious and unique food, had seen exotic clothing and had my name written in several languages. I rode off having learned something about other cultures, as well as my fellow students from different countries.
“I think it’s important for students to know that we have an international student population on campus,” Rachel Errington, director of the ISA, said. “and what they bring to the campus community and classrooms.”