The University of Colorado Boulder held the 2023 International Festival, or iFest, at the University Memorial Center on March 4. The festival is an annual celebration of culture and diversity around the world, with live performances, food and cultural groups. According to the travel diary given to guests, the festival is CU Boulder’s largest student-run event on campus since 1990.
“It is a big cultural festival at the University of Colorado Boulder,” said Huilin Han, one of the co-chairs of iFest.
Attendees lined up in the booths to learn about foods, activities and decorations from countries from all over the world. After interacting with the booth, they would receive a stamp in their travel diary that made them eligible for prizes at the end of the event.
The festival also featured main-stage performances. Groups such as the Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu Association and the Colorado Hula performed traditional songs and dances live on the Glenn Miller Ballroom stage for the duration of the festival.
Yusen Ye, a student at CU Boulder, took the role of an advisor this year, supporting the more actively involved students with directions and advice. He had worked as the head of the food committee in previous years and talked about the event.
“Last iFest was the first one coming out of the pandemic,” Ye said. “This year, everybody is more prepared, more experienced and we have more booths and more funding.”
Ye also talked about the challenges of working in a student-run event.
“The funding may not be as great; we can always use more money. Sometimes the timing is a little bit more restrictive,” he said.
But he said the positives outweigh any negatives.
“We are very happy that it is a student-run event. When an event is student-run, we are allowed to have a lot of independence,” Ye said.
Melissa Thomas, or “Professora Pinauna,” is a teacher at the United Capoeira Association Colorado. This year, Thomas ran a performance of capoeira, a fight-dance style of martial arts in Brazil. She also ran a booth where she taught attendees about capoeira and some Brazilian musical instruments.
“I just love that everyone that’s come in and participated in our booth has been really interactive, learning how to play instruments and learning what capoeira is,” Thomas said. “I love sharing capoeira. It just gave me the opportunity to be able to talk about something that I love.”
The International Festival will return next year, tentatively set for April 14, 2024, promising to continue the yearly cultural experience that brings the world to CU Boulder.
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