Students share international cultures, experiences at annual celebration

Portland State held its Annual International Night in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom Thursday, May 17. International Night is PSU’s largest cultural night event, highlighting countries and their cultures from around the world. The theme for this year was ‘Festivals Around the World.’

Volunteers greeted visitors and hosted games and tables featuring a number of countries including South Korea, Taiwan, China, Japan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, France, Colombia, Bangladesh, Peru, the Philippines, Ireland and Ukraine.

Volunteers brought traditional clothes, artifacts, decorations, dolls, books and pamphlets representative of their respective countries. Some were personal possessions, but many were borrowed artifacts from WorldOregon, a non-profit organization that promotes cultural understanding through various programs such as their International Visitors Program. The artifacts are part of Global Classrooms, a program that aims to educate students in the Portland school system about world cultures.

Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Afghan and Saudi Arabian hosts at their booths were in their traditional clothing, allowing visitors to take pictures with them. Cultural games were hosted in the Browsing Lounge, and three henna artists inked visitors.

On the first floor of SMSU, volunteers served complimentary food representative of various cultures, including hummus and pita, the Korean noodle dish japchae, Chinese mantau, vegetarian Indian curry, Vietnamese tofu spring rolls served with peanut sauce and baklava, a Mediterranean dessert made from filo dough.

The highlight of International Night was the performances hosted by Benjamin Pocheron, an international student from France, and Jasmine Torres, an American student. The show opened with two performances by Oregon Irish Dance Academy that had 17 young dancers, followed by Jing Lu, an instructor with PSU’s Confucius Institute, and her instrument the yanqing, or Chinese dulcimer.

Xiaoxin Wu played the Chinese guzheng, a long horizontal stringed instrument also found in Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese cultures, and Cong Xu and Xu Wu performed the flute and violin together.

PSU’s K-pop dance group’s routine began with a backflip from one of the dancers as they performed to popular K-pop artists like Momoland, Boa and Red Velvet. The Latin Dance Club featured a salsa, and Naureen Khan performed an Indian Bollywood dance in sari.

Filipino students Izabella Sy and Jhustin “Jhus” Custodio and Indonesian student Stanly Thiofilus performed their group numbers, with Sy on vocals, Custodio on the cajón and Thiofilus on acoustics. Two students from Indonesia—Jacqueline Moningka on vocals and Lifia Teguh on piano—performed a duet singing about a prayer for their country.

International Night’s fashion show also highlighted cultural dress from around the world, including Peru, Malaysia, India, Taiwan and Vietnam.

International Night is organized by the Office of International Affairs, with the help of numerous volunteers who are part of the International Cultural Service Program and other student associations.