Inaugural EMS International Culture Night an overwhelming success

By Danielle Palmer
December 15, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) hosted its inaugural International Culture Night this fall with nearly 100 people attending. The event was overwhelmingly successful and participants and guests alike had a wonderful time exchanging dialogue about culture, languages, customs, and traditions; sampling food from different countries; and listening to musical performances.

The event brought together students from EMS and others throughout the University with one goal: to celebrate their culture and share it with others.

Twelve international student organizations from across the University set up booths and displayed information about their countries and culture. Exhibits showcased aspects of everyday life in the students’ home countries, spanning tea from China and Kuwait, coffee from Saudi Arabia, candied dates from Kuwait, to “Gongkak,” a game from Malaysia.

EMS International Culture Night

Students were delighted to learn about the authenticity and the cultural component of the traditional clothing presented by the Malaysian Students Association.

IMAGE: Mohammad Nur Farid Omar and Amir Danial Mohd Azrin

Attendees were also treated to musical performances featuring students singing songs in their native languages and playing native instruments like the classical Chinese instrument, the guzheng. Students dressed in traditional clothing from their countries explained the elements and representation of the garments.

Nels Shirer, the college’s associate dean for education, attended the event and said, “I thoroughly enjoyed this inaugural event. Penn State’s international students are deeply proud of their cultures and are excited about educating us in their rich traditions. Their excitement was palpable and I thank them for sharing their enthusiasm with all of us in the college.” 

EMS International Culture Night

Izzah Radzi from the Malaysian Students Association shared many interesting details about her country's traditions with Nels Shirer, associate dean for education in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

IMAGE: Mohammad Nur Farid Omar and Amir Danial Mohd Azrin

Event attendees were also able to sample food from around the world prepared by the Pita Cabana Grill, Uncle Chen’s Chinese and the India Pavilion Exotic Indian Cuisine, all local vendors. Students were on-hand to explain the contents and describe the flavors for guests.

In another activity, each attendee was able to “make their mark” on a world map, showing the range of countries represented by those attending the event. Student organizers also contributed to a video featuring EMS students saying “Welcome” and “We Are Penn State” in 12 different languages, an inspiring and inclusive gesture designed to welcome all to the Penn State community.

The event was conceived by a group of international EMS students who wanted to give back and help other international students feel welcome and integrate more easily into the University.

Under the guidance of Sylvia Deng, academic adviser in the college’s Ryan Family Student Center, the students, Aziz Abdelaal, Hassan Naroo, Jauhar Zabri, Na Youn Gu, Ali Aldhamen, Arihara Kumaran, Nour Aldousari, and Zong Jun Li, planned the entire program, which included contacting the student organizations, vendors and staffing the event.

“I valued the opportunity to help the students gain confidence and develop their leadership skills through the project. I am incredibly proud of the students and the successful event that resulted from their efforts,” said Deng.

Plans are in place to include more student groups and food vendors in future years.

Last Updated January 26, 2016