On Saturday, October 20, during RPI’s Family Weekend, the Union Student Activities Office and the Office of International Services for Students and Scholars hosted the 24th annual International Festival. Held in the McNeil Room of the Rensselaer Union, the Festival featured many of the cultural organizations on campus.
Groups that participated in the event included the Asian Cultural Union, the Chinese American Students Association, Alianza Latina, and Hawaii Club. Other organizations involved in the festivities included the Sigma Delta sorority, Engineers for a Sustainable World, and Balfour. The cultural clubs primarily sold samples of food from their respective cultures, while others provided information about their groups’ activities and goals. The Balfour representatives took orders for class rings from students.
Several clubs also gave performances during the day. The Turkish Students Association held a musical performance involving the use of sitars. The Fotia Dance Troupe, based in Schenectady, N.Y., made an appearance, and their members showcased a traditional Greek folk dance. Both the Pakistani Students Association and the Malaysian Students Association held fashion shows. A group of students from Kazakhstan, dressed in traditional garb of their country, showed their national dance, titled “Kamazhai.” The Indians Student Association exhibited a traditional dance routine, while the Iranian Students Association played Persian music and recited Iranian poetry. The Philippine American League gave the final performance of the day and encouraged audience participation in their dance titled “Tinikling.”
According to Director of Student Activities Cameron McLean, the International Festival was “originated by a cultural sorority: Psi Beta Nu,” and “the Union took it over when the group eventually disappeared.” However, it was not originally part of Family Weekend. Eight years ago, iFest became part of Family Weekend, and has seen approximately 1,500 individuals in traffic each year.
McLean stated, “The goal of the program is to acquaint students (and their families) with the cultures and lifestyles of our international and cultural students. This program promotes the cultural exchange between people, and it allows all to experience the beauty of other countries.” She added that many members of the Rensselaer community also refer to the day of the International Festival as the “Best Eating Day” for on-campus food.
For more information about the International Festival, or to provide feedback for this year’s iFest or suggestions for next year’s, contact McLean at firstname.lastname@example.org.