Festival of Nations 2023: FAU celebrates different cultures

FAU continues its long-standing tradition of celebrating its diversity by hosting the annual Festival of Nations.


Christopher Vargas

A group of Polish traditional dancers.

Christopher Vargas, Contributing Writer

Being held for nearly 30 years, the Festival of Nations is an annual event that took place on Tuesday, where students can experience other cultures that are in FAU. Students can interact with food, music, and activities from different cultures on all FAU campuses, from Boca Raton to Dania Beach. 

The festival is a collaboration between the Center of Inclusion, Diversity Education and Advocacy (IDEAs), and International Student Services and partnering with the Student Government, Multicultural Programming Board, and Program Board. 

“This festival is not only for students but also for the community themselves to notice and appreciate their culture,” said Marilyn Lopez, the associate director for the Center of IDEAs.

This year the Boca Raton Campus festival took place in both the Recreation Center and the Alumni Association building at the north end of the breezeway. 

Cultural food was available at the event. (Christopher Vargas )

Located in the Alumni Association in particular, students could find a diverse array of cultural cuisine —from Jollof rice from Africa to New

Zealand Lamington cake. 

“This event is great; it brings food from around the world for new people to experience for the first time,” said Stewart Leburn, FAU volunteer. 

In addition to the foreign cuisine, one of the other highlights of this year’s festival was the various live dance performances. 

Among the first was a group performing a traditional dance from Silesia, Poland. Draped in conventional folk dancing garb, they entertained festival-goers from song to song and dance to dance. 

Another performance was a salsa dance performed at the ballroom of FAU. The two dancers, Marina Watkins and Nanya Uko, recalled how they felt unparalleled excitement for their performance at the event.  

“The Council of Student Organizations asked us if we wanted to perform, and we couldn’t pass up the chance,” said Watkins.

Uko is an FAU alumnus returning to volunteer his skills for the festival, showing his dedication to Latin dancing. 

“I’ve been dancing for five years, I prefer to dance the bachata, but I think we dance better together in salsa,” said Uko.

Along with showcasing cultural dances, there were multiple stands showcasing different countries and a brief snapshot of their culture.

Among the stands that were present was a stand representing Syria, which was run by FAU alumna Mariam Houraney.

Houraney presented information on Syrian culture from its food and textile production. Houraney wanted to show other students there is a side to Syria that goes beyond the county’s internal ongoing conflict.

“We have plenty of good culture in Syria, and we want to change that negative narrative,” said Houraney.

Additionally, on the stand, there were also links to donation centers to show support for Syria and Turkey, which are still recovering from two earthquakes that hit the two countries earlier this year. 

Due to the impressive turnout for the event, Juan Izaguire, interim director for the Center of IDEAs, hopes to keep the festival running for many years to come. 

“The Festival of Nations is a great way to learn more culturally about your fellow owls and hope more come next year,” said Izaguire. 

Christopher Vargas is a contributing writer at the University Press. For more information on this story or other stories, you can reach him at [email protected].