Center for Global Engagement hosts annual Festival of Nations

The event showcased FAU’s diverse student body and their cultures through food, activities, and speeches.


The group “Ishwarya Srikanth” performed classical Nepali music in front of a crowd who attended the Festival of Nations. Alexander Rodriguez | News Editor

Maria Campos and Kristen Grau

More than 700 people attended the 24th annual Festival of Nations that was held in the Student Union on Thursday evening.

FAU’s Center for Global Engagement (CGE) partnered with the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Multicultural Programming to transform the Student Union lobby into a display of traditions and heritage from countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Honduras, Japan, Haiti, and India. The event served to educate FAU’s student body on other experiences and ways of life.

“It was a team event that includes the Division of Student Affairs and a lot of student organizations, international students, and some domestic students,” CGE’s Executive Director Mihaela Metianu said.

Aromas from Swedish meatballs, chocolate babka, and Spanish rice filled the Grand Palm Room. Along with food and musical performances, the room had several guest speakers talk about their countries’ traditions for those who wished to learn more beyond the tables.

“Sometimes students don’t realize how diverse FAU is, or the community, so this is a great moment to connect with each other, to meet new people and to be able to just celebrate,” Coordinator for International Services Sharon Rodriguez said.

The ethnic diversity at FAU is almost double the national average, and is only increasing according to the 2014 Diversity Data Report.

One student performance led by business major David Ruiz included a Colombian-style salsa dance called ‘Caleña.’

“Dancing Salsa Caleña,” a group of students, performed a Colombian salsa dance Thursday evening. Alexander Rodriguez | News Editor

“We did two performances at the beginning and there was no nerves, and when we came out the music didn’t start and they didn’t have it prepared so we started feeling a bit nervous,” Ruiz said in Spanish. “When the music started to play, everything went good.”

Some tables like Nepal displayed their currency, called rupees, as well as jewelry like Rudraksha, which are prayer beads. Other tables like Konbit Kreyol, a Haitian student organization, took a more interactive take by dancing around their tables.

The student organizations in attendance stressed that their groups were far from exclusive. For example, the African Student Association (ASA) welcomes non-Africans with open arms.

“We’re trying to make African students have a place to call home,” ASA member Chito Chinedu said. “Africans and non-Africans can come to discuss our culture. It’s a nice opportunity for students to be proud of who they are.”

For some participants, the festival hit close to home and meant more than free food and henna tattoos.

“I’m so proud that this is the first year that FAU had Honduras,” Alejandra Alejandra, an international student who volunteered to table for the country, said. “FAU gives us an opportunity to share a little bit of who we are.”

Maria Campos is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet @mariadacampos

Kristen Grau is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].