By CAROLINE KIMBRO
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The 54th annual Marshall University International Festival returns Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center. The event is West Virginia’s largest and longest-running international festival, featuring international foods, world music, dance and displays representing countries around the world.
Jyotsna Patel, event coordinator and administrator for the Office of International Student Services, said the festival will include an international photo booth, artwork created by Barboursville Middle School students, face painting, a raffle and an area for kids to participate in karate, belly dancing and other activities.
Live entertainment will feature the Voodoo Katz of Charleston, West Virginia, a six-man band known for their core Caribbean and African numbers Various performances by Marshall international students will also be perfomed.
Patel said admission to the festival is free to allow the public to experience pieces of the 20 countries and cultures represented at the event.
“I think it’s especially important for Huntington,” Patel said. “We live in a global world, right? When you go out there in the real world, you might end up working anywhere. So, I think it’s important that we learn about each other’s cultures.”
Sarah Nix, a senior majoring in international relations and Japanese, said the festival provides a distinctive venue for the Huntington community to connect with and learn about a variety of cultures.
“I feel like it bridges the gap between Huntington residents, exchange students and other international communities to give them a space to get to know each other and appreciate diversity in the city,” Nix said. “It’s pretty unique for West Virginia.”
Nix said she has helped with the festival multiple years, typically as a member of the Marshall Japan Club.
“We usually do a performance of a Japanese song, as well as put together activities for people to learn about Japanese language and culture,” Nix said. “For example, people can try origami (paper-folding), calligraphy and get dressed in traditional kimono.”
Patel said the critical opportunity this event provides for international students is to share their cultures.
“It’s important for our international students to showcase their countries,” Patel said. “And they’re proud to. I mean this takes time and effort for them.”
Patel said guests will be able to purchase food tickets at the event to sample global dishes provided by Chateau D’Italia, Chipotle Mexican Grill, El Ranchito, New China Garden Buffet, The Red Cellar Door and Marshall Dining by Sodexo.
Marshall University’s Office of International Student Services and Student Affairs sponsors the International Festival with the help of Cabell County Schools, BB&T, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Kroger.
Caroline Kimbro can be contacted at [email protected]
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