International Festival

May 24, 2010
by Basil Panton '11, Vice-President H-SC International Club

On a Friday afternoon in April, the campus of Hampden-Sydney College seemed unusually quiet because many students had departed for home either to observe Easter or just to spend the weekend with their families.  Crawley Forum, however, was busy with exhibitions and cultural performances by international students at Hampden-Sydney and from other campuses. The event was the H-SC International Club’s 3rd Annual International Festival.

Dubbed as “Celebrate the World,” the yearly festival lived up to expectations.  There was much anticipation as the international students from H-SC, Longwood University, and Sweet Briar College set up their exhibitions.  The unexpectedly large crowd quickly flowed into the hall, and the atmosphere transformed into one of lively enthusiasm.

As the guests descended the stairs to the main floor, the first table they came to was that of Yonathan Tarekegne, a H-SC freshman from Ethiopia.  Yonathan did a great job displaying the culture of his native land.  At his table were costumes, carvings, and other memorabilia from Ethiopia.  Yonathon’s explanation of the significance of the elements on the table fasinated the festival attendees.

Next, the patrons moved over to the right where they saw a showcase of Chile.  The display was presented by Victoria Marshall from Sweet Briar College.  The cards and printings of famous places and tourist attractions in Chile captured what this country on the eastern coast of South America offers.  Victoria gave the attendees a nutshell view of Chile.

The guests showed their appreciation for each culture by visiting the table one-at-a-time. Beside Chile was Jamaica.  The two students at this table were Osric Forrest '12 and Basil Panton '11.  The questions flowed, as people were curious about the politics, the attractions, and the food of this tiny island that is tucked away in the western Caribbean.  While some found answers in the brochures and displays, others wanted to talk about Jamaica..

The crowd eagerly awaited the performances which began a little after 7.  The talents of the international students drew from a wide array of cultures, and the students themselves came from as near as Longwood University to as far away as the University of Virginia.  One of the early performances was a musical piece by Shannon Rivera of Longwood University.  With her talent and polished performance, Rivera excited crowd which thanked her with resounding applause.

The night continued with multiple dramatizations, acts, and demonstrations.  But one of the highlights of the evening came from Uma Ayer of the University of Virginia.  Ayer performed traditional dances illustrating and giving meaning to elements of Indian culture.  Ayer put her all in a ten-minute cultural showcase of traditional dances and her own interpretations.  In the end Ayer earned a standing ovation from the audience for her style and the breath of her routine. The crowd was astounded at her technical skills and the charm that Ayer brought to the night.

The audience also expressed their appreciation to our own Justin Smith '11.  A native of the U.S., Justin has been involved in the International Club since his freshman year.  Justin also has international experience from his semester-abroad in Argentina, so it was no surprise that he appeared several times during the evening.  Justin (right) demonstrated his flexibility in the Brazilian Copoeira Demonstration, along with Jay Artiz '11, and underscored his musical talent in a African song.  Each performance drew thunderous applause from the more than one-hundred in attendance. 

The festival set all to talking about how beneficial it is to have the International Club on campus.  The crowd and the international club members agreed that the event was a success. The club members are very grateful that so many community members and students took the time to attend the festival.  The exhibitions brought the world to Hampden-Sydney, and the performances “celebrated the world.”

Alas, the festival is done, but the International Club and students are still here. The International Club is dedicated to “fostering relationships through cultural awareness,” and as such the club members will continue to hold a variety of events on campus.