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Students and faculty congregated in the East Campus Mall Area Thursday afternoon to peruse Cultural Learning Stations, an event designed to expose students to cultures from around the world.
The event was part of International Education Week and hosted by International Student Services, Valencia International Club, and Wellness Ambassadors. Tables lined the mall area, each one representing a different culture, Latin music played over the loud speakers, and various cultural desserts were available.
“It’s definitely important because we have a big population of international students here,” explained Irene Acevedo, student services worker and core advisor of International Club. “Definitely, it’s a great opportunity to bring the world to us, because our students, that’s what they do, they bring the world to us from where they are,” she said.
According to Acevedo, Valencia has students from over 150 countries, and events like this help them meet people and expand cultural awareness.
“I feel like I’m home,” said Jean Paul Boucher Apolte, a Venezuelan immigrant and Valencia student. “Everybody’s from outside and everyone is like you know, ‘we are outside people, but we are inside now.’”
“I’m from [an] other country and I like [that] in America or United States we have a chance to show our culture in like American schools,” said Melisa Ozyurt. “Because, for example in Turkey they just do Turkish stuff, they never do like American stuff or Egyptian stuff. So, [in] America everybody is from other cultures, so I like that we can show off our culture and stuff.”
Ozyurt is from Turkey but was doing henna for students at the Egypt table because that is where her best friend is from and she says the cultures are similar.
Victoria Mendez, a student-leader on East Campus, was working at a table where students were learning different greetings from around the world. “In Hawaii you say ‘aloha’ either way, it’s hi or goodbye. In Mexico or Spain, or every Latin country, you say ‘hola,’ that’s hi, and goodbye are ‘adios,’” said Mendez.
Tables at this event were more for educational purposes than other events this week.
“Hinduism is probably the most prevalent religion in India,” said Kyle Rambiriche, a member of International Club, who was working at the India table. He went on to explain that Christianity and Seeks were the next most prevalent groups.
He also talked about Indian Festivals like Diwali, a “celebration of the triumph of good over evil,” he explained. “So, basically, they light these candles called diyas and they turn off all the electricity and just let the place be lit by candles alone.”
The event seemed to be a success, as many students spent over an hour dancing, singing, laughing, and eating.
“[Turnout] was pretty amazing, I would say compared to last year it was way better,” said Acevedo. “We had more students help out and dress up and we had more food, and we had a DJ. [Students] were dancing all the time and they were giving a lot of information from their country to all the students, so it was really cool.”
Photo By Sam Schaffer