International communities at MU gathered together to embrace the university’s cultural diversity at the International Welcome Party.
Hundreds of students, faculty and Columbia residents flocked to the MU Student Center to attend the party from 7 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday night. At one point, the line for entry ran all the way down to the basement of the building.
Upon entry, each attendee was given a passport to stamp. A passport was stamped whenever an attendee visited stations set up by different international student organizations to showcase unique cultural aspects and customs. After receiving six stamps, a party guest could enter a buffet of signature international dishes.
Nationalities and cultures represented at the event included Saudi Arabian, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean.
Dressed in thawb, traditional Arabic garb common in the Persian Gulf region, members of the Saudi Student Association shared pictures of their native country, such as pictures of Mecca, an Islamic holy site. Club members painted guests’ hands with their names in Arabic. Visitors were also served traditional Arabic coffee.
Attendees helped themselves in an interactive activity at the Taiwanese Student Association’s table, where they grinded their own beans using a mortar and pestle and added boiling water to make traditional Hakka tea.
The Korean Student Association presented customary clothing and traditional art, as well as pictures of the modern-day Seoul skyline.
“I really enjoyed the event,” sophomore Chen Yufeng said. “I met some great people from different cultures and seeing all kinds of different traditions of different cultures was fun.”
Among the many cultural dishes served were Persian beef soup, Indian carrot Halwa and Malaysian curry chicken.
“I liked the different food, authentic clothing and all the people that showed up,” freshman Mary Evanoff said.
About two hours into the party, guests and event staff danced to both traditional and modern pop songs of different songs. The disc jockey at one point played “Gangnam Style” by Psy.
“I loved dancing and the vibrant energy here,” said freshman Afiah Mohd Fozi. “I loved the (event). It’s great seeing people of different cultures get along.”
David Currey, director of International Student and Scholar Services and assistant director of the International Center, also attended the event. Experiencing some element of internationalization is essential to a 21st century college education, Currey said.
“This is a great event, and I am happy to see the international students exhibit their cultural and national heritage that they are proud of,” Currey said. “The world is at our doorstep. This is an exciting, meaningful way to remind the American community that we’ve got a rich international community at the university.”
The event was co-sponsored by the Missouri International Student Council, the Missouri Students Association International Programming Committee and Mizzou After Dark, with contributions from 19 different campus organizations and cultural groups, Caitlyn Gallip the chair of the IPC and coordinator of the event.
“The International Welcome Party brings together different international communities within Mizzou and helps bridge the gap between international and domestic students,” Gallip said. “This event allows us to celebrate Mizzou’s diverse cultures, which I think is a unique feature of the university.”