Each Spring, the International Student Association (ISA) hosts their largest cultural event- The International Food and Culture Fair, which includes the opportunity to sample foods and view performances from countries around the world. As with many areas of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how events run, meaning the ISA event has undergone some changes in order to move forward with the event.
The ISA will host an adapted version of the event with an International Showcase at 6:30 p.m., Saturday March 27 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts in the Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall.
“Due to Covid, we have a very different program than it would have been,” said Brenda Hawkins, immigrations officer and advising coordinator in the Internationals Programs and Services Office, who is serving as ISA’s interim advisor. “…We cannot do the food portion of the event; it will just be the performances.”
In an event that traditionally fills the Bicknell, another change is that this year there will be an audience capacity of 230. One hundred tickets are for students, 100 tickets are for community members, with an additional 30 ticket cushion. Tickets for the event are free, and were available beginning Monday, March 15. Tickets must be picked up from the International Office in Room 118, Whitesitt Hall. Numbers were determined by Bicknell social distancing guidelines
“The Bicknell center has been gracious in having an event, and already having the Covid guidelines figured out and what they can do to host a group,” Hawkins said. “The Bicknell center is a great facility we get to use… so we’re always thankful for them.”
In order to compensate for the limited audience, the event will be live streamed on pittstate.tv and Facebook.com/BicknellCenter for those not able to attend in person. The performances will also be archived on pittstate.tv for viewing after the event.
“It’s lived stream, so students, family members, (and) community members from around the world can watch it either live or after the performance..,” Hawkins said. “So, anybody can enjoy the event, even if they aren’t able to get a ticket to be there in person.”
Other changes include strict adherence to social distancing guidelines and mandatory masks for all in attendance. Those who attend the event will enter from the North entrance of the building, where they will be directed to their seats as a group. Seating will be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis, with members of the same group being seated together if possible. If a group is too large, they may have to be split up into separate rows to adhere to the social distancing regulations. Groups will be seated at least six feet apart, per guidelines. Additionally, there should be no waiting lingering in the lobby before or after the performance.
“We’re adhering to Covid and social distancing guidelines on every level,” said ISA president Marlon Merida Morales, junior in political science with an emphasis in international studies. “We’re following the Bicknell Center’s guidelines, PSU’s guidelines, as well as those set up by Crawford County and the State of Kansas.”
The event will consist of 11 performances representing eight different countries and cultures. Performances will include dances, singing, a fashion show, among others.
“It’s a fun event, you’ll get to see different dances and different people from all over the world,” Merida said. “You don’t have to travel. The beauty of this is that they’re Pitt State students who are going to make dances and presentations for you… it’s a wonderful cultural experience to see.”
The Taiwanese Student Association (TSA) will be performing a dance for the event and have been preparing with weekly practices beginning in February.
“TSA will be doing a dance to… three songs remixed together… to show off our culture,” said TSA president Meilene Robinette, senior in finance and Spanish. “We’re excited to perform…look out for TSA…it will be really exciting to get to see us.”
With many events being cancelled due to the pandemic, the ISA thought it was important to hold the event if they could despite Covid.
“We want to keep the tradition alive, and if they Bicknell and Pitt State is giving us an opportunity to have it, we’re going to hold it,” Merida said. “I hope people get to learn a bit about the different countries and cultures. You’ll be very surprised of the talent some of the normal people you see here have.”
The event will provide an opportunity for people to learn about other cultures and also give international students a way to express themselves during the pandemic.
“…It’s important right now for students to have something to do to express themselves and their cultures and the international students haven’t had that so I think it’s a great opportunity for our current and new students to have a chance to express themselves,” Hawkins said. “It’s important right now is that it will bring a little taste of normal times as much as we can… so I think students… and the community are ready for that, and to support the international community that we have here.”
Due to the limited tickets, there will be a waiting list for people who want tickets. ISA asks that if anyone has tickets that will not be used, for them to return them to the International Office so they can go to another interested party.