Portland State University students and community visitors experienced the cultures, cuisines and fashions of various countries at the Organization of International Students’ (OIS) largest ever International Night celebration Friday.
The event drew a crowd of hundreds, and organizers had to turn people away at the door on orders from the Portland fire marshal when the numbers topped 700.
The 27th annual International Night was organized and coordinated by OIS, but featured the help of any students who wished to volunteer, including International Cultural Services Program scholarship recipients.
International students set up tables with cultural artifacts, photos and foods from their home countries. Countries represented at various tables included Peru, Nigeria, Vietnam, Korea, China and Taiwan.
Saraa Dluhosova hosted the table for Slovakia and the Czech Republic. She has been to International Night before and noted there were usually a lot of Asian students and very few European countries represented.
Also, Dluhosova said, many people still think that the Czech Republic and Slovakia are one country.
The university told Dluhosova she is the only student at PSU from the Czech Republic, so she felt a responsibility to represent her country to the PSU community.
Her table included photographs, a doll, naturally dyed Easter eggs and buchtta, a sweet yeast bread Dluhosova baked herself.
The traditional Czech bread takes three hours to make and is filled with a sweet, poppy seed center.
The evening also featured performers from various countries, including Vietnamese instrumentalists, Polynesian dancers, African drummers and the Fort Vancouver Scottish Pipe Band.
Students from the Murray School of Irish Dance also performed.
Geraldine Murray, a PSU alumni, has been involved in Irish step dancing for 30 years and has run her own school since 1996, teaching students from age 5 through adult.
One of the featured dancers was Jeremy O’Connell, a sixth-grader from Rosemont Ridge Middle School in West Linn. O’Connell began step dancing five years ago because he thought it was harder and more interesting than other sports he saw.
“I like the challenge of dancing,” he said.
O’Connell has participated in various championship step-dancing competitions in several states, including Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona and Idaho. He will be competing in the national competition in Nashville, Tenn., this July.
Male and female students from PSU’s Polynesian Club presented traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian dances in regional costumes.
Chata Addy, a group of two African drummers and one dancer, all from Ghana, but currently based out of Portland, also performed.
A highlight event of the evening was the international fashion show, organized by Patrick Morgan, a program assistant for ISCP.
The clothing from various countries and regions was presented by a group of 72 student models.
Countries and regions represented included India, Sri Lanka, Saudia Arabia, Korea, Japan, Nepal, Spain, Turkey, Hungary, Italy, Africa, the Pacific Islands, Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
Each group of models showed off their clothing to various musical selections in the largest fashion show ever presented at International Night.
The event, ranging in cost from $4 to $7, also included a buffet of ethnic cuisines from various parts of the world, many of which were represented at the tables and in the fashion show.