Around the world in 80 days? Try doing it in one.
[gf1] Take in Malaysian and Pakistani dance performances one right after the other. Sample seared mahi-mahi from Vietnam, a taste of sauerbraten from Germany and sweet potato flan from Mexico, all in the same meal. And don’t forget your passport.
Trekking from France to Hungary by foot and wandering from Korea to China then onto Brazil in a matter of minutes didn’t seem so impossible for those that attended the MSU Global Fest Sunday, November 21. The finale to International Week held at the Union offered a taste of culture to anyone wishing to sample an assortment of ethnicities.
[gf2] Global Fest director Alex McCrae said his goal was to draw the community in and help people discover different international groups present throughout campus. While he said the groups seem to go unnoticed on an everyday basis, the event gave them the chance to display their country and culture in a more personal setting.
“To me, MSU is like the isolated castle of East Lansing,” McCrae said. “You don’t realize what kind of international community is here and the connections that can be made. This university has 4000 students from all over the world. This brings you into another facet you wouldn’t normally see.”
[gf7] Business senior Nikos Dimotakis, president of the Cypriot and Greek Association on campus, said he enjoys participating in Global Fest because he feels great pride in his native country and wants others to experience Greek culture. Dimotakis said he also liked the fact that so many other student organizations were involved.
“It’s the only place you can get 30 cultures showing what they’ve got all at the same time,” Dimotakis said. “It’s always nice to know other countries’ cultures, to broaden your horizon or maybe plan a vacation to that country.”
[gf8] While guests journeyed between booths, performance coordinator Susan DeChant said her section of the event was probably the most effective in exhibiting the range of existing cultures. “It gives you a deeper understanding than anything else,” DeChant said. “The booths are interesting because you can talk to the people and learn, but performance is an energy of it’s own.”
Melina Lito, an international relations sophomore and native of Greece, has performed at Global Fest for more than three years. Her group, ranging from middle school to college age dancers, wore customary Greek attire and performed a traditional dance medley. “It’s always fun,” Lito said. “But it’s a lot of work too. We practiced for hours on both Friday and Saturday; it was so tiring.”
Exploring what Global Fest had to offer beyond his booth, Jamaican native and environmental and economics policy senior Eric Bailey compared a Filipino dance he witnessed to hopscotch while mentioning how interesting it was for him to see the range of countries in operation.
[gf5] Bailey, who was in charge of the Jamaica display, said it was important for him to be able to represent his country and educate people. “I see it as a national obligation to put Jamaica in the forefront in whatever way possible,” he said. “For our music, for our food, I do whatever I can to promote Jamaica so that awareness of our identity is increased worldwide.”
President of Community Volunteers for International Programs and Global Fest publicity chairperson Stacey Bieler helped organize a gift shop during Global Fest in which she said all proceeds will go toward scholarship money for spouses of international students. CVIP, a non-profit volunteer organization involved with international students, was one of nine organizations to sponsor Global Fest.
[gf6] “It’s like a celebration,” Bieler said. “[International students] can normally hide away on campus; here, instead of being students, they can be more open about their culture. “Americans can be quite insulated. This gives them the opportunity to see that the rest of the world exists. It may be a small step, but for many people it’s a first step.”
Bailey agreed that Global Fest was a step in the right direction toward efforts of globalization.
“We speak about globalizing in every way possible and what we can do to promote an understanding of various cultures,” Bailey said. “Promoting in this type of academic environment will move us in that direction. It does happen in small steps, and this is one of those steps.”

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