On Thursday, Feb. 23, The University of Southern Mississippi’s Honors College hosted its first International Fair, where numerous international students representing diverse cultures presented different aspects of their cultures through food, music and dance.
Social chair Alexis Aleman came up with the idea during an executive board meeting.
“I plan all of our events,” said Aleman. “When we were discussing last semester which events we wanted to plan for this semester, I discussed a multicultural fair with the other executive board members, and we all really liked the idea [of a multicultural fair], so we decided to pick that as one of our socials this semester.”
Aleman said she knew she and her colleagues would require the participation of multiple groups in order to make the event a success, so she contacted vice president Rachel Williamson, who is involved in numerous cultural organizations on campus. Together, they were able to convince a few groups to come to the event. These four groups represented the countries of Nepal, Italy, Japan and Mexico.
“I think the fair did an excellent job of bringing members of various different backgrounds and cultures together to embrace one another’s differences,” said President of the Honors College Ambassadors Michael McDonald.
“We were open to any group that wanted to present, and we tried to get as many as we could,” said Aleman. “I am hoping to continue the event in the future and have even more groups present. Our main goal was to show that the Honors College and the university as a whole are diverse organizations and to increase appreciation for that diversity.”
Aleman said that she thinks the event was helpful. Her favorite moment during the event was when everyone turned off the lights, and the group from Nepal taught participants various dances.
“We all joined in,” said Aleman. “And then the faculty member representing Italy taught the Macarena, and then the President of the Honors College Ambassadors and I showed them the Cupid Shuffle and the wobble. That was probably my favorite experience in the Honors College so far, because in that moment, there were no language or social barriers. We were all friends dancing and having fun.”
Aleman said that she really enjoyed herself, and that she knows she made friends she will continue to speak to whenever she sees them on campus.
“Friendships were made that night between people who may have been too shy or scared to talk to each other when passing each other on campus,” she said. “I really am appreciative [of] how open and friendly everyone was, because we were relying on that for the success of he event. I couldn’t not get over how nice everyone was, and I was able to learn a lot about cultures I did not know much about.”
Vice President of the Honors College Ambassadors Rachel Williamson said she was worried about the event coming together, but that “everyone really came through.”
“It was nice to see all the different students come together and have fun,” said Williamson. “A lot of my friends who hadn’t met any international students before got to make new friends and learn about other cultures, which was the goal. Plus, my food was a hit!”