This week’s focus and theme of programming was the Global Marketplace. Our speaker was a dynamic and energizing author and business man who spoke about our future roles as global citizens. I was so impressed with his presentation, I made a point to introduce myself and extend an offer for him to speak to the students at my home university! Programming usually begins in the afternoon and may continue into the evening; however, on this day things kicked off first thing in the morning and continued well into the night. Speakers and breakout sessions were scheduled from 9 am until 12 noon. At 3 o’clock, students could return and attend the cultural festival where international students shared food and other aspects of their home countries. [I’m not sure if I ever mentioned before,] The Washington Center student body is represented by over 18 different countries and 48 states!
After lunch, students were invited to return to the Residential Academic Facility (RAF) to experience cultural diversity by immersion. There are 10 classrooms located on the ground floor of the RAF. Each room contained at least two different countries – represented by food, decor, and several ambassadors on hand to teach fellow students about their country. The student ambassadors did a great job. Each booth was top-notch and I was pleasantly surprised by the level of creativity. I tasted desserts from Korea, entrees from India, Japan and Mexico, and drinks from Puerto Rico.
After being able to visit almost 18 different countries, students were treated to a night of international talent. My roommate Shahenaz participated in the talent show portion of the program representing Lebanon with a traditional belly dance. (Go Shahenaz!) There were performances from Korea, Mexico, Japan, India, Brazil, African-Caribbean, Gibraltar, Taiwan, and Puerto Rico just to name a few. The students of TWC defined the showcase by determining what they would share about their countries. Presentations included a short introduction of countries by students who shared the geography of the land, the GDP, national pastime, history and interesting facts in a way that only an insider could present. The garments were elaborate and authentic and not at all costume-like. Songs were sung in native tongues and the dances were a mesh of movements familiar to me but performed in new and unique ways. During the course of the festival, I felt like I’d traveled around the world and back again. Everyone was so proud to share their country with the audience. Both pride and passion were in abundance and was infectious as groups really rose to the occasion in their performances, each surpassing the next. With jubilee and delight, the crowd cheered and screamed in support. The call and response of cultural chants from performers to audience members was melodic and natural. I reflected on all that make us unique, juxtaposed with everything we have in common as citizens of the world and members of the human race. After all the performances, an overall winner was announced. The winner this semester – Puerto Rico! About 30 students participated in dancing and singing. They showed Latin dance, African dance, played Reagaton dance music, and left everyone breathless as we all spontaneously jumped to our feet with them to sing Ricky Martin’s Cup of Life. Here we go! Ole, Ole, Ole! Go, Go, Go! Ole, Ole, Ole! I tried to include 10 second videos and pictures of most of the performances. (I was too busy dancing with the Puerto Ricans to record theirs, sorry).
Short video playlist from You Tube of the performances.