Each spring, the International Student Association (ISA) hosts an annual cultural fair with food, games, and performances by the international students. This year, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cultural showcase was quite different from years past in an effort to follow social-distancing and safety guidelines.
“At the beginning of this semester when ISA discussed what to do about the Food & Culture Fair that is held each spring, they decided to hold the event but focus on the performances,” said Brenda Hawkins, Immigration and Advising Coordinator at PSU. “Unfortunately, due to COVID and restrictions, serving food was not possible this year. So, we modified the event to performances only and decided to call it the International Showcase.”
Marlon Merida Morales, president of ISA, said safety was their biggest priority when planning this event. “People were going to have to wear masks, …as long as everyone was okay and the university gave us the go, we were going to go on with the event.”
In the show, 55 students from seven different countries were involved in the performances. These performances were split into ten different acts with short comedic dialogue from the emcees in between.
Performances included a ballad from the Korean Student Association, a piano piece by a student from China, traditional dances from the Africa Student Association, a song from Brazil and a performance of the Paraguayan bottle dance, a traditional folk dance in which a glass bottle is balanced on the head. The Indian Student Association had many acts in the show, including original songs, traditional dances, and a fashion show. The Taiwanese Student Association also performed a dance routine to pop music from their country.
Lin Chia Wei, graphic arts major and performer for the Taiwanese Student Association, says she thinks it important to have events like this for international students like herself.
“In this kind of event, you can see every culture and country,” Lin said. “Because this year we don’t have the food culture stuff, but I think music and dancing is important too.” Lin also said before the event that she hoped that people would like their performance and just “have fun with it.”
Many students that study abroad have a hard time adjusting to unfamiliar cultures. Events like the International Showcase can help students feel more at home while studying abroad, especially during the pandemic.
“The students love to share their culture with the campus and community,” Hawkins said. “This event was a highlight of this semester since they haven’t been able to hold as many activities. The students worked hard on their performances and their enthusiasm as they performed made it a great night.”
“Here, people are nice and they treat us like family, and make sure everything is good and take care of you,” Lin said.” It important to have things like this to make international students feel more welcome.”
The event was livestreamed online (pittstate.tv) It will be archived for viewing on demand.