UCF International Fair touts diverse flavors, performances
Becoming more inclusive and diverse, one of President John C. Hitt's five key goals for UCF, was the focus of the 25th Annual International Fair hosted by the International Student Association on Thursday.
Students were able to see, smell, taste and touch their way through unfamiliar cultures at the International Fair, which displayed around 20 different cultural booths.
Sitting in a drum circle directly outside the Student Union's Pegasus Ballroom where the event took place, Mark J. DeMaio, a drum circle facilitator and educator, was making music with complete strangers.
Students passing by heard the sound of the djembes and dunduns and stopped to watch. Many were intrigued enough to sit and drum along to the rhythm of the beat.
"There should never be an observer when you make art," DeMaio said. "Everyone participates."
The International Student Association desired to be as inclusive as possible with the International Fair this year, said Julia Vashchenko, ISA president and a junior health services administration major.
"We try to encourage diversity and inclusion so everybody could be together and explore each other's cultures," said Vashchenko, who is originally from Russia.
As diversity grows across UCF, so does the number of different cultural organizations. The Annual International Fair is one of the only times each year that many of the different cultural groups get the opportunity to come together to learn about each other and promote their cultures to the UCF community.
Thibault Adda, public relations officer for ISA and a UCF graduate student studying communication, said ISA's goal is to bring UCF's diversity to light because many students might not be aware of other cultures overseas.
Being an international student from France, Adda feels pride for his country and wishes to share the culture with America.
He even brought his crepe maker for the French Club table to make the traditional French dish as food is consistently a fan-favorite at UCF events, and that remained true at the International Fair.
Komysha Hassan, a sophomore political science major, raved about the flavor of it all.
"It shows the eclectic side of UCF," she said.
Hassan is involved in the UCF International Student Association, Muslim Student Association, Asian Student Association, International Relations Club and the Latin American Student Association, and said she truly has a passion for learning about different cultures.
Rachael Truex, a junior visual arts and emerging media major, praised the Indian food, while Camilla Veronit, a junior medical science major, enjoyed the Italian food.
Juana Vargas, a senior math education major, was appreciative of how accurate the Colombian booth was, being Colombian herself.
What's food without a show though?
The Shimmy Knights, UCF's belly-dancing club, shimmied their way into the audience's hearts as they performed several dances.
Next the Colombian Student Association took the stage to showcase the Colombian culture through multiple cultural dances that left the audience wanting more.
Ashley Gramhao, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, came to the event "to become more culturally literate," she said. "When I'm here I get to learn about my friends' backgrounds."
Gramhao said that getting a Henna tattoo, which is a traditional Indian artwork designed on the skin, was her favorite part of the International Fair.