USF’s Herd of Thunder marching band led the traditional “Parade of Flags” feature as the festival opened and shared festival sound waves with a traditional Celtic duo band.
Divided by geographic region (Middle East/Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas), the many displays and organizations represented at the event gave students a chance to unwind with the unfamiliar, make cultural art at crafting tables and overcome language barriers by practicing calligraphy and speech.
In addition to the many craft tables set up, booths were made for Asian name art and name origin certificates, both very popular features with students.
This year, the geographic regions were color-coded to streamline organization of the displays and help students find their way around.
“It’s more efficient, I guess,” said senior Jarory de Jesus, as he made his way through the festival’s crowd. “It kind of makes it visually easier to navigate and easier to find what you’re looking for.”
Students were encouraged to complete a “passport,” handed to them at sidewalk entrances and stamped after visiting an area’s displays, in return for that area’s cultural food options.
Once students finished their “passports,” they could enjoy plates of falafel, baklava, crab rangoon, egg rolls, jerk chicken, chicken shawarma and shepherd’s pie. Food was provided by Bay area sponsors Jerk Hut, Chopstix, Mayuri, Lupton’s, Latam Catering, Byblos Pitas and PJ Dolan’s Irish Pub.
Many display tables were given to USF Education Abroad, which specialized displays in each section to reflect abroad opportunities in those areas.
“I think it helps students get a perspective of what it’s like, or learn a little bit about other countries,” said Melissa Ortiz, an ambassador of the Education Abroad program. “It’ll make them want to experience it for themselves by studying abroad.”
Several organizations represented at the festival might not be considered “cultural” in the strictest sense, but made their presence known by reflecting on the broad terms that define “culture.”
“We’re such a diverse group, that we’re our own culture,” said Luke Blankenship, a representative of the USF P.R.I.D.E. Alliance, a student LGBT support organization. “That’s how we tie in multiculturally. We’re very different than a lot of people.”
The International Festival, which began in 2010, is organized by the USF Office of Multicultural Affairs and is made by possible by the affiliated student organizations that make the festival's displays.