Fresno State students and guests celebrated diversity Sunday night through music, dance, food and fashion at this year’s 34th annual International Culture Night.
The theme of the event was “global citizens and the generation of the future,” said Shady Nicolas Misaghi, a senior and lead coordinator for the event
The multicultural event took place at the Satellite Student Union and was organized by the International Student Services and Programs Office (ISSP).
The event was the finale of International Education Week, celebrating the university’s international student community.
Nicolas Misaghi said the theme was chosen primarily to give a voice to the arts and to highlight how technology has lead the way for easy communication around the world.
“Especially in this moment in history, I feel like coming together to celebrate different cultures and be all together and celebrate unity and diversity is a big deal,” Nicolas Misaghi said.
The evening began with the Fresno State Lion Dance, a Malaysian dance featuring students playing drums and cymbals as dancers came out wearing animated lion costumes adorned with tassels, sequins and fluttering eyelashes.
Other highlight performances included a Sri Lankan singing group, an Indian dance and a group singing Colombian, Salvadoran and Mexican songs, including “La Bamba.” Audience members joined in on the dancing and singing during the event.
Erika Torres performed an Italian aria.
She introduced herself as a Mexican-American who loves Italian culture, and she encouraged the audience to also learn about different cultures.
“We should all learn to not [merely] tolerate, but to admire and appreciate all people’s cultures,” Torres said.
A cultural fashion show followed the performances, with models dressed in traditional clothing from Yemen, Japan, Nigeria,Vietnam, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other countries.
“This year, we mixed it up a little bit because we decided we didn’t care who wore what dress,” she said. “So if someone really wanted to model and didn’t have something to wear, we would find something for them even though it was from a different culture.”
Fresno State students Yvonne Yii and Megan Walls both participated in the fashion show as models. Yii wore a yellow silk cheongsam dress, a traditional Chinese dress made by her relatives. Walls wore a dirndl dress she received while studying abroad in Germany, a traditional folk dress worn at the Oktoberfest festival.
“My exchange student’s mother gave it to me,” Walls said. “Custom [dresses] in Bavaria and southern Germany, where they’re typical, can cost up to $1,000.”
The event, as diverse as it was, did have one key encouragement: People were invited to dress in clothing representative of their own culture or a culture they love.
“[Our generation is] getting to that point where we can actually enjoy the differences and actually be in the same room, wearing different clothing, speaking different languages and loving each other,” Nicolas Misaghi said.
Yii, an international student from Malaysia, said the event helped promote the diversity of Fresno State’s campus.
And as an international student from Spain, Nicolas Misaghi said she and her peers have been able to take advantage of the experiences at Fresno State, where they have been able to learn and interact with people of different cultures.
“My target was I want the people from here, the locals, to see and to enjoy this diversity that we [international students] are taking advantage of,” she said. “I’m telling you, that makes you grow as a human being so much.”
Nicolas Misaghi said she hopes that people left the event with a better understanding of multiculturality, unity and diversity.
“I want people to feel included and at the same time, accepting of the ones that are different from them,” she said. “I think that’s what world peace is based on.”