Spanning the globe on Hayden Lawn
ASU WebDevil
Feb. 21, 2008

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 by Allison Denny
 published http://www.asuwebdevil.com/issues/2008/02/21/news/703787

 

Bright cultural artifacts, the murmur of foreign tongues and the savory smell of foods from nine different countries melded together on Hayden Lawn Wednesday for the 20th annual World Festival, hosted by the Coalition of International Students.

Hundreds of students strolled through the 23 tables representing more than 100 countries looking at cultural exhibits, reading about different countries and customs and munching on snacks like falafel, spring rolls and Indian frybread.

Spanish guitar music, Afghan cultural singing and Middle Eastern dancing were among the performances on a stage nearby.

Mason Murphy, international student adviser for the International Student Office, said the event celebrates the heritage and culture of student groups.

"It gives a great representation of the University," he said of the festival. "It showcases the breadth of the international students [on campus]."

Computer science freshman David Bendit said people should take time to understand the different cultures on campus.

"It's a lack of understanding that leads to a lot of problems," he said.

Martha Christiansen, associate dean of Student Affairs and director of Counseling and Consultation, said international students made up about 5 percent of the student population during the fall 2007 semester.

There were 3,481 international students on campus, representing 125 different countries, she said.

The Institute of International Education an independent, nonprofit international education and training program recently named ASU one of the top 25 institutions for hosting international students, Christiansen said.

And because ASU is focused on international cooperation and growth, she said, it's important to have events like the World Festival on campus.

"It's amazing to imagine that this has been growing and spreading and improving for the last 20 years," she said.

Knowledge is getting more attainable and specialized, Christiansen added.

"At ASU, we fully understand that the world is getting smaller," she said. "We're committed to reaching across the oceans while still sitting in the desert."

School of Global Studies freshman Monica Urrea said knowing about other cultures promotes friendliness between different groups.

"People are afraid of what they don't understand," she said after visiting a table celebrating Taiwan. "This is a way for people to learn about things they otherwise would have no knowledge of."

Business management freshman Ruben Serna said he's interested in traveling to other countries and learning about their cultures is an important part of that.

"You want to have an open mind," he said. "The more you know, the better."

Reach the reporter at: allison.denny@asu.edu.