International Students’ Association hosts cultural exchange event
The sound of festivities from different cultures echoed through the Great Hall on Burnaby Campus last week.
Supported by the BCIT Student Association and funded by BCIT International, the International Students’ Association (ISA) held the World Showcase Event, with booths representing international students from a variety of countries.
ISA President Rodrigo Mendez, an international student from Venezuela, described the event as a platform to allow students to embrace those from different ethnicities as fellow humans, with different stories and experiences to share.
There was no shortage of national pride; international students were eager to show off their country through art, costume, food, and music to make their country the most inviting destination.
Mendez told The Link that this is the first time an event like this has happened at BCIT, and that the ISA will try to make it an annual one.
He said he received positive feedback from students, staff, and other visitors at BCIT.
“There was a moment when I was walking towards the showcase and there were so many people,” said Mendez. “I felt so content because that’s something we made happen.”
According to Mendez, this event was adapted from the successful Eurovision showcase last year. Originally, the BCITSA planned to have a similar event in the Great Hall and at Professor Mugs.
“The one at the pub [did not come through] because there wasn’t anyone who wanted to volunteer,” says Mendez. “That’s when we stepped in and that’s when we started making teams.”
With the help of team leaders, teams guided fellow compatriots to promote their respective cultures to create this successful event.
“I didn’t know this was happening today,” notes Sabrina Guinjicna, first-year architecture student, as she wandered between booths with fellow classmates and friends. “I think it’s a great idea, spreading ideas about [the] difference between cultures … and [with] different food, at lunchtime, attracted a lot of people.”
Betty Han, a part-time marketing student responsible for the Taiwanese table’s photo booth, told The Link that the Taiwanese and Chinese tables were placed at opposite ends of the event by request.
“The reason why Taiwan and China have different booths [and at different ends] is very political, and in school, we don’t want to get into that. But we are two different, separate countries,” explained Han.
In response to some students’ confusion of the difference between Taiwan and China, Mendez stressed the importance of cultural awareness.
“If someone is being called to be from another country, it’s very offensive because you have things that are unique by yourself, about your own culture and your own heritage,” he said.
Bobby Zhong Cheng, a first-year construction management student and volunteer at the Chinese booth said that the separation of the Taiwanese and Chinese booths was understandable.
“In my country, personally, I respect people; they have their own political stance. So in this part, we don’t want to argue with them,” explained Cheng.
When the event was over, Shivani, first-year marketing student and volunteer at the India booth, took a short break.
“I’m really happy that everyone was stoked to promote their own countries. It’s really fun getting to know all the rest of the international students at BCIT … You don’t get a lot of this kind of interaction in the classroom,” she told The Link with enthusiasm. “Plus, it’s really fun! I think it surprised everyone there were impromptu dances, from other countries as well [as India]. It surpassed everyone’s expectations.”[hr]