The bustle of people in different clothing, the buzz of accents and languages, and the exotic combination of aroma from different food made CU’s International Festival come alive.
The International Festival on April 13 is the biggest student run event at CU. It involved different ethnic student groups who made food and brought ornaments and accessories from their home countries. It was by far one of the most welcoming experiences I’ve had at CU. It was a place where everyone wanted to know more than just your name; they wanted to know where you came from and your story. As I talked to people from different countries, prejudices seemed to subside. Everyone was just there to have a good time, eat really interesting food and learn about other cultures. The International Festival was the epitome of how people should be treated. However, at CU I think the experience of people seeing past where you are from is less common than some might think.
As an international student, I’ve often come across people who make assumptions about where I’m from, and openly say it to my face without thinking that they are doing anything wrong. I feel like they immediately put me into a box often linked to where I am from, instead of solely my personality. Even in my own dorm I get referred to as, “Dubai Danielle.” It’s a label, but that’s all that it is.
I think that a big issue when it comes to different diversities interacting with each other is that people don’t realize the effect of what they are saying. To people in my dorm, Dubai Danielle might be a way of distinguishing me from all the other Danielle’s that they know, but I see it as a much larger issue. One that deals with setting up these walls and labels, and it makes it harder for us to look at each other as equals, instead of someone from the outside group.
The idea of whether our university is diverse enough is completely relative, and I understand when people say that they think CU is diverse. However, from an internationals standpoint, it can be intimidating to speak to people outside of your own race when you feel like such a minority.
A lot of people don’t realize that these prejudices exist because they might not be as familiar with them. Sidney Gomez, who is part of the multi-ethnic media organization (MEMO), talked about the way ethnic groups on campus help people feel safe.
“As a minority group, feeling safe is not having any of those things affect your relationships,”Gomez said. “It’s not feeling targeted.”
The International Festival at CU was a great chance to really see what other cultures are at CU and gave me the chance to really hear other people’s opinions on this topic.
While I think the International Festival was a great way for the minority groups to get to know each other, I don’t think that the rest of the CU student body was very much involved. For those who wanted to hear about the festival, it would have been easy to find, but for someone who is not in a minority group, I don’t think that the festival was advertised as much as some of the other events on campus. As far as I could see from walking around, most of the people were either the students running it or parents with their kids.
It was a successful event. I just hope that in the following years, we start to see more involvement from the broader student population because the lack of connections between diversities is an issue. Even if people don’t realize it now, I think that learning how to interact with other nationalities is going to be a big part of our lives once we leave college. We have so much to learn from other cultures, and I think that it’s important to learn that not every culture is the same. No one wants to make a cultural faux pas similar to when George Bush thought he made the peace sign in Australia and instead insulted thousands of people. Granted, our mistakes might not be as large, but I think that preparing to deal with other nationalities is something that should be more expected throughout our university experience.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Danielle Meltz at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org.