Students gathered on Friday and Sunday for the Festival of Nations, a two-day event celebrating international cultures with a variety of events such as a tug-of-war tournament, a formal ball, food, dancing and the launch of a magazine.
Graduate student Ritu Ghose, president of the LSU International Student Association, is from Bangladesh and planned the event alongside members of her organization and was excited to announce the launch of the association’s first magazine at Friday’s festival event.
The magazine, Continental Fusion, aggregates content from international students and student leaders. It also contains messages from Executive Vice President and Provost Roy Haggerty, as well as Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School James Nguyen H. Spencer.
Through a variety of literature such as poems, short stories and book reviews, the 48-page magazine shares perspectives from different countries and cultures across the globe. According to Ghose, the magazine has been in the works since September.
“You have stories from someone who is in Pakistan and then from someone who is from Colombia,” Ghose said. “It will give you a different flavor when you read it.”
There are students from all over the world at LSU, Ghose said, and it’s important for them to feel as included as domestic students. She believes the Festival of Nations created an inclusive environment.
“It's important to promote diversity because there are students at LSU from all over the world,” Ghose said. “[There] may not be a large number from each country, but there are students, and they have to feel inclusive as well as the domestic students need to know about the culture of their peers.”
This creates an inclusive environment, she said, which was the goal of the magazine.
Ghose invited other international clubs to set up information booths and activities at the festival, all of which was funded by SG. The event hosted over 250 attendees, she said.
Graduate student Hemanthie Wickramasinghe is a member of the Sri Lankan student association at LSU. She had a booth with informational pamphlets about Sri Lanka and hosted an activity where students learned to write their name in the Sri Lanakan alphabet.
She said she’s passionate about learning other cultures and is grateful for getting the opportunity to teach people about her own culture.
“Most of the students [who] visited our booth were not aware of our country, Sri Lanka,” Wickramasinghe said. “So we were able to inform them about our country.”
Wickramasinghe’s favorite part about the event was the game of tug-of-war, which is a Sri Lankan national game, she said.
“There are cultures out there which will have common elements as your culture, and it is fascinating to learn how they could have common things even if they are not related to each other,” she said.
Toyin Adebamiji, the president of the African Student Organization, was born in the U.S. but her family and friends are from Africa. She was excited to spread knowledge about her culture to students at the event. Being part of the relatively new organization, Adebamiji felt happy to be included in the event. She believes it’s important for everyone to know a little bit about every culture.
Adebamiji was excited to see people taking interest in her culture by stopping at her table.
“The fact we got to tell them, let them know and educate them – it was really inspiring and just made our hearts a little bigger,” Adebamiji said.