Monday, November 19, 2007

Students, Faculty, Community Visiting Bracken Library Experience Cultural Diversity at Ball State's International Festival

Friday, November 9, 2007 was the day when students, faculty, and community visitors could travel around the world without leaving Bracken Library thanks to personnel from the Rinker Center for International Programs.

International students from 35 countries decorated tables in Bracken’s lobby with items from their homelands. Exhibits featured music and food samples to engage visitors and to raise awareness about the diversity of international students who are attending Ball State University.

Visitors could sample tea from Japan, coffee from Iraq, chocolates from Germany, rice from India, and sweets from Kazakhstan, just to name a few. A fashion show held at noon highlighted both modern and traditional dress from several countries.

Flags from the countries adorned Bracken Library’s mezzanine and tables were stationed around the lobby’s exterior. The International Festival is an annual celebration of cultures at Ball State that has gone on for more than 50 years.

“There are 91 countries represented from around the world here at Ball State,” said Martin A. Bennett, Director of International Services. “Having the International Festival at Bracken Library is absolutely the best.” Mr. Bennett began the day dressed in a Turkish vest and hat and made changes throughout the day, wearing a Chinese jacket, an Indian wrap, and an Arab robe.

Leticia Tourn from Uruguay offered visitors a taste of maté, a strong, hot beverage made from tea leaves. A Fulbright scholarship recipient, Leticia is an elementary education teacher who is currently working toward a graduate degree. She has only been in the United States for three months, and she said one of the things she first noticed and likes about Americans is how forthcoming and direct they are when communicating. She also appreciates that in higher education a person can obtain a minor in one area and a major in another area, then can change fields later and choose to diversify the person’s education even further.

Visitors to Bracken were invited to get a “passport” stamped during their stops at tables. This then qualified them for discounts in The Bookmark Café and they became eligible to win prizes provided by the café.

Participants said that the turnout and interaction with American students were great. Bracken Library was chosen as the site for the International Festival because of its central campus location, size of exhibit space, and the large number of daily visitors.

From the Rinker Center for International Programs, Debra L. Goens, Foreign Student Advisor/Immigration Specialist, and two graduate students, Ramia S. Badri from Iraq and Yunxue Ding from China, organized the large-scale event. Other personnel from International Programs welcomed students and helped with various aspects of the event.

To view 111 photos from the day, visit

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