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International Cultural Festival combines diversity, unity

Lamar University students, faculty and staff will celebrate a world of diversity in the LU International Cultural Festival: A Global Experience, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16, 2014, in the Montagne Center.

Hosted by the Office of International Student Services and International Student Council in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Lamar’s Small Business and Development Center, the event focuses on celebrating the diversity and cultures of International Students at Lamar.

“It is a multilateral effort across the campus between university departments, the International Student Council, local communities and many countries’ student associations,” said Michael Jiang, director of International Student Services and Recruitment. “It is a superb example of coordination both on and off campus.”

The event stands as a large-scale celebration of international students’ unique cultures and countries and an appreciation of the students overall.

“We want to devote our time to our great international students, celebrate them, give them our attention, and highlight the wonderful things they’re doing,” said Jeff Palis, director of Global Studies and Study Abroad. “This event is an example of that while also acting as an education opportunity for US students.”

For participants and attendees, the festival will feature a wide array of international food, culture, song, dance, dress and general celebration of unity through diversity from countries like Nepal, Liberia, Bangladesh, Ghana, China, India and Iran. The Montagne center will be transformed into a culturally diverse oasis to represent global inclusivity and pride.

“The International Cultural Festival is an opportunity for over a thousand international students at Lamar to showcase their cultures to the entire university,” International Student Council President Adharsh John Chundammanal said. “It’s an event to make us feel that we as international students are also an integral part of Lamar. We have students from over 60 countries studying at Lamar. The festival is an opportunity for students like us who have come from an entirely alien world to join under a single umbrella of Lamar Cardinals. We want to showcase the idea of unity in diversity that we are able to foster here at Lamar.”

International Culture Festival, which falls during International Education and International Student Appreciation week, is the highlight of the year’s international student events according to Jiang. Student groups must work closely to best showcase what is special about every country, not just their own.

“It is an opportunity to tap students’ talent by showing off each culture and their countries’ scenery, food, and more,” he said. “It also raises the visibility of Lamar’s international community and catches the attention of domestic students. Because of this, it creates an important opportunity for domestic students and international students to interact with each other.”

The strengthening relationship between international and domestic students is a crucial aim for Chundammanal as well.

“I want to bring the international community to the limelight, most of them are in their shells and anxious to interact with the local community,” he said. “I want to remove that anxiety and fear and let them see that the local students are just like their own friends. I also want to enhance the relationships between different international students. I believe that in events like this they need to come together and perform as a team in order to be successful.”

Chundammanal believes that the event lays the foundation for a more harmonious relationship between all countries represented at Lamar, which is strength for all students and the university as a whole and paves the way for even grander events in the future.

“With events like this, Lamar can showcase before the community—and, literally, the world—the glorious international culture and exposure it has. This not only creates more interest and attracts prospective students to Lamar, events like these also give students a chance to come out and be a part of the university,” he said.

International students can learn more about one another’s complex cultures and “take a walk down memory lane” together by sharing memories from their past while looking toward the future.

“Now, I want to highlight how someone from the U.S. would benefit from this function,” Chundammanal said. “I believe that there are many people who aren’t too literate about the wide variety of culture that each country in the world has to offer. Attending this event will open a new dimension in understanding previously unknown countries. Apart from enjoyment, they’ll get a glimpse about the food items indigenous to different areas of the world—it’ll be a fun ride!”

Shuttle service will be provided to the event starting at 4 p.m. according the International Student Council, and starting at 5 p.m. International Cultural Festival T-shirts will be given to the first 50 students who arrive at the Montagne Center. 

“It’s going to be in the Montagne Center this year, which is a step up from where it’s previously been held,” Palis said. “We’re expecting a big crowd from the students and community. It’s important that this event is part of the inclusivity of Lamar. We are all invited to this festival and we’re all from our different countries that we’ll be celebrating, but while we’re here we’re all Cardinals.”

The event is open to the campus and community and begins at 6 p.m. For more information, contact Michael Jiang at (409) 880-8988 or