International students sometimes get lumped together as one large group, like when people talk about “international students” studying in the US. But within that group are dozens of different ethnicities and cultures.
At Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, a recent event – “International Spirit” – promoted cultural exchange and gave students an opportunity to deepen their understandings of different cultures.
Many countries around the world were represented, with international students from Bangladesh, the Philippines, Romania, Korea, Mexico, China, Pakistan and many other countries participating not only as observers, but as representatives of their countries.
“I loved the involvement of the international students,” said Arlene Herrera Gomez from Mexico. “I believe that our differences are so interesting. I am really happy because we perfectly illustrate the diverse spirit of Georgetown.”
Participating students decided how they were going to explain their cultures to their peers. Student wore traditional clothes, cooked traditional foods and played songs from their countries.
Gomez decorated the Mexico booth with a Mexican flag and brought guacamole, nachos, dulce de leche (a Mexican dessert), and coconut.
“I think that the event was successful,” said Gomez. “A lot of people came and were truly interested in learning other countries’ culture.”
But the event wasn’t just for international students – students, faculty, and school staff had the opportunity to attend the event and experience different cultures.
“I am so surprised that many people know about my country,” said Miao Li from China. “People at least know one or two cities in China.”
Li wore a qipao, a traditional Chinese dress that she brought from China. She thinks her qipao can explain Chinese culture well: It is not only the Chinese traditional costume but also the symbolic Chinese color, red.
At the end of the event, participants were hopeful that in the future, even more people would be able to have the experience of cultural exchange—without even leaving Georgetown..
“I hope we can have a larger space next time, so more people can come and join us,” said Li.
Jeonghyun Kim is a VOA intern for the English web desk. She is from South Korea, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism at Georgetown University.