HCC celebrates diversity with International Festival

Apr 28, 2017

The Houston Community College (HCC) Southwest Campuses routinely leads the way with the most diverse student population out of the six colleges comprising HCC, so it’s fitting that Southwest would showcase an afternoon of cultures from around the globe in the International Festival.

Over 350 students participated in the 3-hour festival at the West Loop Campus Auditorium showcasing their talents through music, dance, poetry and food.

The goal is to bring all walks of life together under one roof and display each cultures treasures. As you walk from table to table, country to country, it doesn’t take long before you tap into the similarities and differences of the different cultures represented – in a sense creating a “small world”.

“HCC is unique because it’s very diverse in it’s population and this event is a way to bring diversity together to understand other people’s cultural backgrounds,” Khadija Alghazali, a Nursing major from Iraq, said.  “It’s nice for everyone in America to experience different cultures and foods from other parts of the world. At my table representing Iraq, there’s mini pizzas with tomato and meat, onions stuffed with rice and meat and you learn to eat sweet dates while drinking rather strong coffee or tea.”

Participants donned traditional garb from their country and they brought pieces to highlight their country’s assets by decorating their table with flags from their country, various books on tourism, food and religion, delicious food samples, teas and coffees, and other artistic creations, photos and ornaments from their countries.

“We tried to introduce our foods to everyone,” Nalan Budak, ESL student from Turkey, said. “Turkish Baklava, is the favorite.  But, one food that is common to all the cultures is rice and the different ways it’s cooked.”

Erica Wang, ESL student from China, loved the Japanese food she tried. She found this festival a great way to meet new people and make friends with students from different countries. Learning firsthand about different cultures is very important to her and this helps propel her knowledge of the world.

The Parade of Nations is always a big draw, with over 26 countries represented, and it signals the start of the celebration. Participants dressed in vibrant traditional costumes from their country and paraded proudly across the stage of the auditorium while holding the names of their countries of origin.

A talent show ensued complete with singing and dancing from African groups, various Asian countries and Middle Easterners showcasing their distinctive dancing styles. A Turkish artesian performed an ancient art technique called Ebru – floating dyes or paint on water, to the amazement of by-standers.

The International Festival is a yearly event that is organized by HCC Southwest Student Life in conjunction with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. For information, please visit the Council for Diversity and Inclusion page on hccs.edu.

2017 International Festival

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