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International Festival to display various cultures to Clemson community

On April 9 from noon to 4 p.m., the diversity of Clemson’s student body will be showcased in a celebration of different cultures and identities at the 27th annual International Festival on Bowman Field.
Tigers of various backgrounds and ethnicities will have the opportunity to “come together to be immersed in food, music and activities from around the world,” said Jessica Shamoon, the Marketing Sub-Committee Chair for the festival.
This highly anticipated event is expected to attract thousands of faculty, staff, students and local residents to enjoy the multitude of cultures available to experience at the festival. Admission is free, and tickets can also be purchased to buy food from various vendors.
“The International Festival is an event that symbolizes Clemson’s commitment to celebrating identities and cultures from around the world,” Shamoon said. ­
This year’s festival will feature cuisine native to multiple nations, prepared by “students and volunteers [who will] collaborate with Aramark, but Aramark is not the one preparing the food,” Shamoon said in an email to The Tiger. The dishes will be prepared as chosen by volunteers and members of various organizations.
Entertainment will also have a large role in the festival. Dance routines featuring Salsa and Bollywood fusion  — an improvisational form that can be performed to almost any kind of music and often creates itself as it goes — will be on display, as well as a few other styles.
In addition, Henna artists will be on site practicing the ancient art form which originated more than 5,000 years ago in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East.
In years past inclement weather has caused problems for the festival, leading to more preventive measures this time around. This year, plans are in place to move the festival to the Hendrix Student Center if there is inclement weather.
Shamoon currently serves as an international services advisor, working closely with many of the more than 1,700 international students and scholars at Clemson. There are also more than 100 international employees at the University. Collectively,these students and employees represent more than 81 countries worldwide.
The international community is in reality even larger, including not only foreign born students but those from the U.S. who celebrate their family’s heritage, as well as those involved in international student organizations on campus.
A new focus for this year’s festival is to “build a stronger foundation and support system,” Shamoon said.
This involves expanding the event’s social media presence through the creation of a Facebook page as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Attendees are encouraged to follow the festival’s social media accounts for updates and to post their own content during the festival.
Organizers are also making a greater effort to reach out to the larger Clemson community, especially members of local organizations and schools to spread the word as much as possible.
This is one of several festivals and programs at Clemson aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion, many of which are sponsored by the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center.
These include #Prideweek17, which will celebrate Clemson’s LGBTQ community, as well as a week long recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in January.
Many who have attended the International Festival in previous years have raved about their experience through the internet. One included a video compilation of snippets from the event, displaying components of it and highlighting the variety of food and crafts from different countries.
Shamoon said the festival has two main goals: to help the Clemson community better understand its members in an engaging and interactive way and to demonstrate the university’s dedication to cultivating a diverse and welcoming environment.
“We celebrate many people and traditions at Clemson; this one is particularly important,” she said. “At the end of the day, we are all humans who share a bond through Clemson.”
Correction: The story has been changed to reflect that the students and volunteers are collaborating with Aramark to make the food, but that Aramark will not be preparing it. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Aramark would be preparing the food for the festival.

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