Nations converge at Bowling Green International Festival

Freshman Fahad al Humaid, center, of Saudi Arabia performs a traditional dance with his friends—This photo is from the College Heights Herald archives and does not depict the Iftar dinners.

Rialda Zukic

Hundreds of exhibitors brought their cultures to Bowling Green after traveling thousands of miles overseas.

They performed their traditional dances, while dressed in the finest clothing with golden headpieces and coin belts dangling around their waists, and served their traditional cuisines, each wafting an aroma of blended spices.

“I feel like I’m back home,” said junior international student Zhibo Yuan, president of Chinese Student and Scholar Association. “All the food — now that’s the bomb. When you smell it, it’s just like when I was near my home in China.”

Yuan was one of the many WKU international students at the annual International Festival on Saturday. The festival, which represented about 25 countries from around the world, had booths set up for each country featuring its traditional food, culture facts, games and more.

“It’s a good thing we’re attracting a different population other than just WKU students. We’re attracting people who live in Bowling Green,” Yuan said. “We’re trying to spread our culture to them.”

These WKU international students shared cultural insights about their countries to the hundreds of people who attended the festival. Many American students also came to support the international community.

“I think that people need to become more accepting, and it’s easier to do that when you know a little bit more about the culture,” said Georgetown, Ind., senior Ashley Weatherholt.

Most agreed that their cultural experience at the festival was just as enriching as a trip to any of the countries would have been.

“I think it’s so cool, because you don’t have to fly 20 hours to Vietnam to (see the culture), you can come to the international festival and see,” said communications graduate student Ngan Chau, from Vietnam.

Danville junior D’Andree Logan said the international festival is a learning experience for everyone involved and that knowledge starts when you interact with other cultures.

“If you talk to an international person for 10 minutes, you’re going to learn at least 10 new things every minute,” Logan said. “We got Japan, Ghana, Kenya, Brazil, all these nations represented here and I’m seeing all kinds of different races.”

Dressed in traditional white robes (thawb) and white-red headdresses (keffiyeh), a group of WKU Saudi Arabian students jammed to their favorite Saudi music, enjoying their time together at the festival.

Senior Abdullah al Wosaifer said the International Festival is about broadening people’s knowledge of different cultures, including breaking a stereotype he faces.

Wosaifer said he wanted people to know Saudi Arabians aren’t closed-minded. Rather, he said they are quite open-minded people.

“People think that we live in the desert,” he said. “So we want to tell them that we live in buildings and we’re not riding on a camel, we have cars.”