Culture Fusion Friday: a spirited display of diversity

One student wore a traditional Indian dress that matched the shade of the orange autumn leaves drifting from their trees and rustling in the wind. Another student, who had Grenada’s flag wrapped around his head as a bandana, laughed while conversing with his friend and waiting for the next game to start. Cultural Fusion Friday, a night of games, dance and food from Namaste Indian Restaurant, was part of the week full of events that the Global Education Office organized to celebrate International Education Week. on Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

“The reason I had [cultural student organizations] help me plan this week is because historically, the international organizations on campus, ASO, MISA, CSO, and other organizations that are international, they don’t generally work together. Being a student myself at MSU before, I noticed that there was always tension between the organizations, and now that I am working at MSU in the Global Education Office, not as a student but as an actual staff member, I wanted to use my platform to get them working together,” said Kamilah Tobin, global education recruitment specialist.

This is the first year MSU has held events throughout International Education Week, but Tobin said the global education office is hoping to make this celebration an annual event so that international students continue to feel appreciated. 

“That was the idea behind the whole week and Culture Fusion Friday is that they bring their ideas. They bring their culture. They bring their vibe all together to work together,” Tobin said.

Jesutobiloba Oladido, management information systems junior and president of the African Student Organization, said this event was a good opportunity for ASO to be represented.

“We’re doing this to join together all of our organizations,” Oladido said. “I think it’s important because we can both learn from other people on the other side of the world, apart from America, so you can learn from other cultures.”

One game students played was to listen to music and attempt to dance the cultural dance that they thought matched the music. Then, the hosts projected the video that goes with the music to show the students what country the dance was from and what the dance actually looked like. A participant in this activity was Joshua Griffith, chemistry and math senior and cultural chair of the Caribbean Students Organization. He said as an international student from Grenada, he was interested to see what was on display at Culture Fusion Friday.

“It [International Education Week] allows me to see other people from other islands and get to experience what they have in their home place because as we know, each place is different culturally, so it opens my eyes to that,” Griffith said. “We’re in the United States of America, and most people don’t know how our cultures are back home. They may only know ‘Oh this is Caribbean,’ but they don’t know that the Caribbean is of many islands, and each one in their own way is very unique.”

Seth Skelton, senior associate director of global education, said International Education Week was an opportunity to communicate and have a dialogue with the people around us.

“We want the MSU Texas campus, and the Wichita Falls community, in general, to be more aware of our international students and their presence here. We recognize the culture that they bring, the different perspectives, the diversity. It just adds to the richness of the university. We recognize that, so it’s important to try to raise awareness, and have people from around Wichita Falls and around Texas to experience that and then for international students as well to be a part of the local community and have that interaction,” Skelton said.