Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Campus Community Experiences Diversity at Bracken Library

The Ball State University campus community enjoyed the sights, tastes, and sounds of other cultures on Friday, November 7 at Bracken Library during the International Festival. Sponsored by the Rinker Center for International Programs, international students from 25 countries decorated tables in Bracken’s lobby with items from their homelands, offering students, faculty, staff, and community visitors a chance to visit with them about various customs from around the world.

The annual celebration of cultures at Ball State has been a tradition for more than 50 years. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the diversity of international students attending Ball State.

Participants said that the turnout and interactions with American students were positive. The all-day event was attended by more than 600 people, including classes from Burris Laboratory School and community visitors.

Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries, said that the Libraries’ were happy to host this event for the second consecutive year to promote international awareness and to help campus community members learn about the customs and traditions of Ball State’s international students.

Kue Ziao, a graduate student from China, said the international festival is a window to all international students through which we can see and experience different cultures. He said that each year he meets new friends and learns something new at the festival.

Inasi Nilanka, a graduate student from Sri Lanka agrees. “Most people do not know about Sri Lanka, and I am proud to be a Sri Lankan,” she said. “The International Festival is one of the best opportunities to tell about my country's culture and beauty, and I also learn about other countries!" Inasi’s presentations resulted in many people saying they were interested in visiting Sri Lanka someday.

Visitors to the library sampled tea from Japan, coffee from Iraq, chocolates from Germany, a meat dish from Russia, and rice from India, to name just a few. A fashion show held at noon highlighted both modern and traditional dress from several countries.

From the Rinker Center for International Programs, Debra L. Goens, Interim Director of International Student Services, and two graduate students, Ramia S. Badri from Iraq and Vijay Mandadi from India, organized the event. The event was co-sponsored by University Program Board and Bracken Library.

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