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PSU opens its doors to the world

Nearly 800 people gathered in the Smith Center Ballroom to enjoy music, dance, food, fashion and culture at the 26th annual International Night last Friday.

The yearly event, hosted by the Organization of International Students, demonstrated the diversity of the approximately 1,300 international students at PSU. Students, friends and families of all ages and ethnicities participated in the lively festivities.

Yukiko Shindo and Henriette Bruder, the event organizers, said they were pleased with the outcome of the International Night 2002. “PSU has a large international community and we’re trying to share the cultures with others,” Shindo said.

An array of booths, languages and traditional dress colored the ballroom. The 16 booths that lined the walls were staffed by students, who shared their native history, geography, culture and arts and crafts with the guests.

Ali Serder Bayram, while welcoming people to the booth representing Turkey, said, “it’s nice that all nations, all different cultures are getting together and getting along.”

The atmosphere in the ballroom could have been mistaken for that of a bustling farmer’s market, with a myriad of colors, smells, laughter and jubilee.

The fashion show treated the audience to international students modeling the wondrous and unique styles of their homelands.

Suzanne Fontaine, an E.S.L. teacher who came to watch some of her students perform, said this is her favorite event of the year, because it’s focused on the international students and their countries, and added that she particularly enjoyed the sights and colors of the fashion show.

The event was a feast for the taste buds as well as the eyes. Seven ethnic restaurants provided an assortment of food and drink. The cuisine was as diverse as the audience with humus, burritos, rice wraps, pastries and much more being offered.

Vladamir Anokhin, here with a group visiting from Russia, commented, “Everything is nutritious and very tasty.”

But the crowd could hardly stay at their tables when the music and dance began. The first performance was the artful Vietnamese “Umbrella Dance,” followed by a spirited French disco act. A dazzling performer from Nepal took the spotlight and a belly dancer mesmerized the crowd.

An Indonesian band jammed on native instruments and the lederhosen-clad Tirolean dancers stomped and slapped their way around the stage. Rafaela de Cadiz led her troupe of passionate Flamenco dancers and two students performed a magical Indian dance.

The grand finale was performed by the Lions of Batucada, who paraded through the ballroom on their way to the stage, where they were joined by four yellow-clad dancers who appeared like lightning bolts across the stage. The Brazilian-style carnival enchanted the crowd, which eventually gave in to the pulsating rhythm and joined the promenade.

These performances rounded out the multi-faceted evening that took the audience from the deltas of Vietnam to the peaks of the Himalayas and Austrian Alps, from the Indonesian coastline to the plains of India and from the Spanish countryside to the avenues of Brazil.

Sarah Sabri, a senior here at PSU exclaimed, “The various forms of entertainment tonight made me want to schedule an appointment with a travel agent first thing in the morning!”