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The Beauty of Culture and Diversity

“Don’t listen to what they say, go see.” The Chinese proverb is true when it comes to experiencing different cultures from multiple countries at the same place and time.

On the 8th of April, 2023, we celebrated the International Culture Festival (ICF) at International House. The Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership and Programs constantly works to provide residents with different cultural experiences. Who does not want to experience eclectic food and delicacies from worldwide without spending a single penny? Welcome to the International Culture Festival at I-House!

The Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership and Programs started preparing for ICF a month before the event. The discussions included the floor chart, food, various country booths, performances, and the songs to be played at the event. Mostly when we residents attend an event, we do not pay attention to the details, but it takes a great deal of effort from many people to make an event successful. That was the same instance with ICF. Manita, Adi, Nayeli, their CILP Team, Program Assistants, and ICF Organizing Committee (Alizé, Bay, and Yi) worked daily to make the event successful. They worked on every minute detail, such as the countries representing the booths, the dance programs, the songs, and the food served during the event. The question is, was it worth it? Indeed, it was! 

Imagine hosting an event during Spring Break when many residents were away and 400 people signed up! I will undoubtedly account for it as a success. Further, there was a photo booth where residents could take and print pictures. Indeed, it was a great way to create memories.

On the event day, the I-House Auditorium was full of people from different nationalities offering food from their countries. The attendees could take an ICF passport after registration and get it stamped from every booth they visited. I-House residents hosted booths representing Botswana, China, India, Mexico, South Korea, Romania, France, Germany, Singapore, and Japan. The booth from Singapore offered the famous “Kaya toast.” The German booth offered the favorite German candy, “Haribo.” Haribo is a German Gummy bear; the children love it very much. Haribo’s German catchphrase is Haribo macht Kinder froh – und Erwachsene ebenso (Haribo makes children happy – and adults as well). Of course, the Gummy bears made Golden bears extremely happy at CAL. 

What is the first thought or emotion that comes to your mind, and what do you desire deeply? Leo, the host of the German booth, offered this fun game at ICF where we had to think of an emotion or thought and write on paper and put it on the board. Have a look at the different first emotion or thought people can think of. We all can clearly use some friends, love, trust, and community.

What is an Indian Booth without a Samosa and Henna? The Indian booth consisted of various Indian clothes, currencies, and jewelry. It would certainly inspire you to dress like an Indian. Further, It is still hard for me to forget the beautiful Romanian dresses worn by the hosts of the Romanian booth. In addition, we could see some of the handcrafted jewelry and bags from Botswana. 

The girl in the Korean booth looked like a princess in her ethnic dress. Oh, what a wonderful experience it was. 

We also counted on the participation of our Resident Council, which promoted some of our upcoming events and hosted the performances. 

There was more to come. First, there were performances on the stage in the Chevron Auditorium. The dance performances and the songs sung by participants were mesmerizing. The first performance was the Korean-American band Ra-On performed K-pop. The second performance was the Indian Classical fusion dance by Maya at Berkeley was breathtaking! Many from the audience would have skipped a heartbeat with every step of the thrilling dance performance by Maya. 

Likewise, the South Indian classical song performed by Arogya and Smruthi was enchanting. This was followed by the dance performance “Pujor Machlish” by Pratiti Ketoki. Later, to lighten up the mood, we had a little more K-Pop by Lena Yi and Kayla Park (Sould Berkeley).

The last dance performance was by Naach@berkeley. Harini (on the left in the image below), a dancer from Naach@berkeley, said, “ICF was such a beautiful evening of celebration of residents’ diverse cultures all in one program. Living at I-House has truly been a blessing, and having the opportunity to share my Indian cultural heritage through leading and performing our act ‘Dances of India’ at ICF was so immensely fulfilling. ICF has definitely been a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will cherish.”

With that, it was time to end the day, but the memories from the event will remain with us long after we move out of International House. 

Alumni, do you have memories of attending or performing in the Edith Coliver Festival of Spring, or SpringFest over the last few decades? Please share in the comments below.