International Night at Winona State flourishes in person again

There+have+been+International+Night+events+for+20+years%2C+each+aiming+to+bring+the+world%E2%80%98s+cul-+ture+outside+the+U.S.+to+Winona+State+students%E2%80%98+doorsteps.

Carolyn Hauschild

There have been International Night events for 20 years, each aiming to bring the world‘s culture outside the U.S. to Winona State students‘ doorsteps.

Jiovani Bermudez, features reporter

On Saturday, March 26, 2022, the International Club and the International Student and Scholar Services office hosted “International Night” in the Kryzsko Ballroom at Winona State University from 3:30 to 6 p.m.

There have been International Night events annually for 20 years which have aimed to bring the world’s cultures outside the United States to Winona State students’ doorsteps. The event was labeled a tour around the world with a simple motto: “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

International students came together to share several aspects of their culture and who they are, including; food, live performances, music and a fashion show. Some of the cultures represented highlighted Japan, China, El Salvador and more.

Oresta Felts, the interim director of the International Student and Scholar Services office, shared the major sentiment of the event, stating, “We believe that it’s of value to learn more about each other, to learn more about the students who are here. They have amazing stories to tell.”

Rickey Marshally, a fourth-year computer science major from Sri Lanka, shared her thoughts on the event and the role of the International Club.

“We are international students… international students don’t have their families here, so we try to get together and make a family of our own. Anybody is allowed to come; those who are interested in culture,” Marshally said.

“We are international students...international students don‘t have their families here, so we try to get together and make a family of our own. Anybody is allowed to come; those who are interested in cul- ture,“ Rickey Marshally said. Marshally is a fourth-year computer science student from Sri Lanka.
“We are international students…international students don‘t have their families here, so we try to get together and make a family of our own. Anybody is allowed to come; those who are interested in culture,“ Rickey Marshally said. Marshally is a fourth-year computer science student from Sri Lanka. (Mohammed Islam)

During the event, Marshally shared great appreciation for Jitu Jalal, the current president of the International Club. Marshally said the event could not occur without the guidance of President Jalal, who opened the evening performances with a Bollywood dance. The night also featured song and dance from China, Japan, Korea and Latin America.

Aside from the usual song and dance performances, there was a demonstration of “Kendama”, a traditional Japanese game featuring a handle, a ball and a pair of cups. The goal is to get the ball into one of the cups or the spike located at the top. The demonstration was done by world ranking champion, Yujiro Nakano, who is also a second-year Winona State student majoring in business administration. He also has won eight trophies in competitions involving Kendama.

The event has suffered a rocky past two years due to COVID-19. Though originally featuring a buffet and much higher attendance, the event has had to adapt to COVID safety guidelines enforced on campus. Last year, the entire event was pre-recorded to avoid large gatherings. The food, which originally included full meals, was reduced to small snacks in pre-packaged to-go boxes.

Fortunately, it seems the troubles brought by COVID are dwindling. Because of this, the event was able to hold live performances again this year. Though they still were doing to-go boxes for food, they were able to include main course meals instead of the small snacks of the previous year. Despite all the good fortune, they still practiced social distancing, resulting in lower attendance than pre-COVID. The students in the International Club are still hopeful for the future of the annual event and are happy to see it inch back to normalcy little by little.

To anyone who may be on the fence about attending the event in the fu- ture, Winona State Librarian Vernon Leighton simply said, “Don‘t hesitate.“
To anyone who may be on the fence about attending the event in the future, Winona State Librarian Vernon Leighton simply said, “Don‘t hesitate.“ (Carolyn Hauschild)

Vernon Leighton, a librarian at Winona State, attends the International Night every year, he said. Leighton spoke about how he was overjoyed to have the event return to in-person this year. He also described his enjoyment of learning of the multitude of cultures, directly from the Winona State students who live in them, along with enjoying the food that was provided.

To anyone who may be on the fence about attending the event in the future, Leighton simply said, “Don’t hesitate.”

This sentiment was shared by several of the students who attended the event. Lucy Pickett, a second-year student studying early childhood education, heard of the event through a friend and said, “It is interesting to see a diverse community together.”

Madi Lavan, a third-year sociology and legal studies major, shared similar thoughts to Leighton.

“If you are on the fence just do it…see what the world has to offer,” Lavan said.

Should any students wish to learn further about any of the cultures represented at the event or take
part in any future events held by the International Club or the International Student and Scholar Services office, they can find the International Office in Gildemeister 132 or contact Jitu Jalil at [email protected]