DePauw University is a big family with people from all over the world, each bringing their own cultures, customs, and traditions that make DePauw a vibrant academic community. With over 270 international students from 30 countries studying at DePauw, the university offers many opportunities for its students to learn about different cultures and have friends from every corner of the world. To celebrate and embrace this community, DISA (DePauw International Student Association) has created a series of events called “International Education Week & International Bazaar” with a lot of exciting performances, traditional food, and activities to promote the diversity of DePauw.
International Bazaar, hosted by DISA, on Nov. 20, 2022 is the biggest celebration of the year for international students at DePauw. This also is one of the largest student-run events on campus to celebrate and appreciate the presence of the international community at DePauw.
The event began with the International Education Week, Nov. 14-18, serving traditional food from Brazil, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Uganda, and India respectively during lunch and dinner at Hoover Dining Hall for a week. While people enjoyed the food, they could also be informed about the geography, customs, and traditions of those countries by attending the speaker events in Hoover Hall’s Daseke Room, where one representative of each country presented about their nations. The International Education Week ended with the most awaited event, International Bazaar.
In this event, students had a chance to try cuisine from all mentioned countries and immerse themselves in the professional fashion show and traditional performances. International students promoted their country’s culture and lifestyle in different ways.
Miho Kato, a first-year from Japan, shared her interesting experience from International Bazaar 2022.
“For B4U, we prepared by doing the same things as usual. First, we voted for the song we wanted to perform and started practicing. What was difficult for us was that some students had exams or papers due and like me, some students were getting involved in multiple organizations, so it was hard to make sure everyone could join the practice. By teaching individually when someone wasn't able to remember or to have time for practice together, we prepared for the performance. For the traditional fashion shows, I joined meetings to understand the formation, and time each country had. For the dance performance by JClub, we practiced about 8 hours to remember the choreography and share ideas to make the performance well,” she said. “About B4U, we performed "ANTIFRAGILE" by LE SSERAFIM (르세라핌) and "HOT" by the Seventeen. During the fashion show, we wore kimonos which are traditional Japanese clothes. For Jclub, we performed the dance "So-ran bushi" originally from Hokkaido, which is the northern part of Japan. It is known as a song about herring fishing. Therefore, the choreography includes the movements of fishermen catching herring!”
To create the successful and meaningful event, it took the efforts and passions of the cooking teams, the performers, the fashion models, the student leaders, and other staff members.
Mentioning the reasons that made him choose to become the MC, one of the most important parts of this event, first-year Minh Tran said, “DISA called me in actually. I know some people in DISA before, they said they love my energy and want me to be a part of the event. Personally, I love the spirit of the people too. They are so nice and cute. Working with them makes me feel comfy. Also, the International Bazaar is a big event on campus, and being a part of it is also my pleasure. That’s why I want to be a part of it!”
“It is a long preparation. Each person has their own role in the event. We tried our best to fulfill our work and support the others. I joined the team later on in this process. But they got me through the whole plan quickly and merged me in very fast,” Minh said. “The event week is the busiest week. We have to prepare all the ingredients for the cooking team, but as long as we work together, all difficulties become joy and fun.”
As Thanksgiving was coming and international students could not escape homesickness, DISA hosted the event to wholeheartedly help this large community feel like home.
“I think that as we make up 30% of the campus community by having the International Bazaar shows to me that DePauw really does have a strong international community and that DePauw cares for the international community,” first-year Kanyanat Sunchayavirul, the only Thai student on campus, said. “Also, I think it shows the sense of belonging to the international students whose home is far away and that being able to see different cultures and learn about new cultures is pretty awesome. It really makes me see that DePauw's sense of community is really strong.”
International Bazaar is a special event for not only international students but also domestic students to learn something new.
“As a domestic student, the International Bazaar was a very educational event for me as I got to learn a more significant part of my friends' cultures that were not really brought up before. While the food was super amazing I enjoyed the performances a ton! Between traditional dances, some also used modern pop culture too which I really enjoyed,” first-year Holden Biffle said. “I learned a ton about fashion which I wasn’t expecting. With the showcase of multiple countries' traditional wear, I found myself extremely interested in a topic I didn’t really think about before.”
As the international community of DePauw University is much larger every year, the school is trying to make it a safe and welcoming home for everyone from all corners of the world.