Cultures celebrated at annual International Festival

Sunday, hundreds attended the Mankato Area International Festival at Minnesota State to celebrate cultures from across the globe.  

The event began in 1972 and has since become a popular annual campus event aiming to inspire, sponsor and support cultural appreciation and worldwide diversity in the MSU community, with students from 96 nations on campus. 

Jacy Fry is the director of the Kearney Center for International Student Services at MSU and was in charge of putting this event together. 

“The event is a great opportunity for the campus community and the city of Mankato. It’s an opportunity for them to come together and meet people from those places, try their food, and see their culture,” said Fry. “It’s also a chance to create an opportunity for people to get along and accept each other for their differences.” 

Another feature of the event was performances like dance or fashion shows put on by different cultures in Ostrander Auditorium. 

Food, beverages and desserts from Sri Lanka and other countries were prepared for the celebration, which occupied the whole CSU ballroom. Sachith Wanniarachchi is the president of the MavLankans, a Sri Lankan Student Association at MSU. 

“We made a traditional food called kottu. It contains tortillas, carrots, scallions and onions. Then, we mix it with eggs and chicken curry,” said Wanniarachchi. “It’s used for dinner but is also a street food.” 

Wanniarachchi thinks this event was a good opportunity to highlight Sri Lankan culture. 

“It means a lot to us as Sri Lankans. We love sharing food and are all about hospitality. It’s a pleasure to cook for people,” said Wanniarachchi. “It’s also our first project of the year, so that’s a good start for our society. We do a New Year festival in April, and that’s a huge cultural event for us.” 

Another organization that participated in this event was the African Student Association. ASA sold jewelry along with drawings of some of the traditional activities people do in Africa. 

We have our waist beads, which you’ll find out across the continent of Africa. These are just civilizations for womanhood,” said Nyamach Duop, the treasurer of ASA. “Basically, women put them around their waist, and then as they grow as a woman, most of them will fall off, and you’ll get new ones that are added to it.” 

This event was also an opportunity for the ASA to highlight its culture. 

“We, as an organization, are trying to reach a broader audience and get people to come to our association,” said Nyamal Jang, the public relations officer of ASA. “We are also trying to find more African students or other students interested in seeing what we’re about.” 

ASA meets every Friday. 

“We also have our end-of-the-year Met Gala in April, and it’s just a way for students to come together and learn,” said Duop. “There will be African music along with African dances.”  

Header photo: The International Festival took place in the Centennial Student Union, giving students an all-expenses-paid trip around the world for a day to experience each country’s different respective cultures, as well as try their dishes. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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