Clemson’s International Festival…a free passport to countries around the world

CLEMSON — Nikeetha D’Souza is thousands of miles away from her native home in India, but still finds a sense of community and home at Clemson.

2018 International Festival vendors interact with guests on Bowman Field

Vendors interact with guests on Bowman Field

“The university provided an amazing opportunity to work on innovative and creative projects that were motivated by goals of increasing diversity in science education,” said D’Souza, a doctoral candidate who came to Clemson to study curriculum and instruction in science education.

D’Souza works as a graduate assistant in the department of teaching and learning  where she engages with students, faculty, and staff from around the globe. She said Clemson’s diverse environment makes celebrating International Awareness Week in April all the more exciting and important.

“The festival is a celebration of Clemson’s multicultural global community,” D’Souza said. “It provides an opportunity for different members of this diverse group to share and learn from each other, have a platform for their voices, and build a stronger sense of community.”

A report from Clemson International Services shows the Clemson family includes students, faculty and staff from more than 130 countries. Representatives from many of these countries shared their stories and culture during the April festival on Clemson’s Bowman Field.

“The importance of the International Festival is that we live in a global context where we have to know about and work with individuals from communities similar to and different from our own,” said Jerad Green, associate director of multicultural programs in the Gantt Multicultural Center.

Green said the festival is designed to be fun, educational and a different way to engage in cultural awareness.

2018 festival-goers take a moment to chat with each other while taking in the festivities.

2018 festival-goers take a moment to chat with each other while taking in the festivities.

“It brings more visible cultural practices and gives attendees the opportunity to learn more about our global community at Clemson,” Green said.

Organizers planned entertainment for adults and children. The Clemson Steel Drum Band will perform a variety of musical styles, including calypso, soca, pop, classical and Latin. The Transcultural Yazz Band, a Latin American-inspired group, will also play at the festival. Kidd will get a chance to win a door prize by participating in a passport activity. And a feature that speaks everyone’s language is food, and lots of it.

“For me, the International Festival is a reminder of home as I hear familiar sounds of music and language, smell familiar aromas of food from different parts of my country and share these memories with my loved ones,” D’Souza said. “It is a chance for me to be in two places at once – my old home back in India and my new one here at Clemson.”

The Clemson International Festival and International Awareness Week is presented by the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center in the Division of Inclusion and Equity.