VIU’s Faculty of International Education is holding a Multicultural Festival to cap off their annual International Education Week. The afternoon will include cultural display booths run by international students, a fashion show exhibiting styles from around the world, a talent show, and finish off with a marimba dance.
International Education Week, which runs from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, is designed to bridge the gap between international students, and domestic students and faculty. It features educational events, such as screenings of foreign documentary films and workshops on cross-cultural conflict, aimed at both students and faculty. The Multicultural Festival is designed to celebrate VIU’s growing community of students from overseas, which Meg Savory, International Projects Coordinator, says is an important factor.
“We have 1500 international students here,” Savory says, “those international students make an amazing contribution to our campus. They bring different ideas, different ways of seeing, and ways of being. If all of our students, international and domestic, could learn to be cross-culturally fluent, they could work anywhere in the world or communicate with people anywhere in the world. They can be better citizens and much better employees when they graduate. Those are really critical life skills.”
The festival is organized by a committee of students and faculty from International Studies. Over the years, it has spread from a single room in their building, to the upper cafeteria, and Savory says it has generated rave reviews.
“Last year’s festival was beautifully chaotic,” says Savory, “in that a lot things happened that we didn’t expect to happen. For example, the fashion show went completely off track, they didn’t follow the pathway that they were supposed to follow, but it ended up making it better. The cafeteria was absolutely full with students, faculty members, and administrators. Even the executive came down and participated in the festival. It was full of energy and full of music, with lots of people dancing, and lots of people participating in the fashion show.”
Savory hopes that domestic students will be inspired by the Multicultural Festival and International Education Week, and pursue a global education.
“We have so many programs where you can take a semester abroad or you can go on an international field school,” says Savory. “They give students an opportunity to really build their cross-cultural skills and their understanding about what’s going on in the world— where things are being done better, where we have things we can offer, and where other countries have things that they can offer us.”
Students and faculty are invited to join in on Nov. 2 in the upper cafeteria (bldg. 300) on the Nanaimo campus, where the festival will run from noon until 3 p.m. For more information, visit the International Education Week website at <web.viu.ca/iew>.