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Festival of Cultures highlights 20 countries through food and fun

By Grey Curcio '24
Published May 4, 2022
Categories: About Eckerd, Global Education, Students
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Sofi Juarez ’25 (left) shares food from Mexico with fellow students at the Festival of Cultures under GO Pavilion at the recent Festival of Cultures. Photo: Olivier Debure

Sights, sounds and aromas of more than 20 different cultures filled the GO Pavilion on April 22 during Eckerd College’s annual Festival of Cultures.

This Eckerd tradition highlights the cultural and geographic diversity represented in the College’s international student population. This year, student ambassadors chose to represent their countries with specific foods, music, dance or poetry.

Latinos Unidos, a multicultural student club, hosted a cultural dance lesson, and a group of ELS English Language Center at Eckerd College students joined forces with the Japanese Culture Club to perform a choreographed traditional dance to end the event. Currently, ELS—which brings students from around the world to Eckerd for intensive English classes—is hosting a group of 50 Japanese students. Other events included a Caribbean steel drum band and a Colombian poetry reading by Prech Potesak, a first-year marine science student from Clinton, Connecticut, and Latinos Unidos club president. Bailey Usdan, a first-year student from Nashville, Tennessee, also performed “Izlel e Delio Haidutin,” a traditional Bulgarian song.

Other Eckerd students chose to represent their cultures by providing small tastes of their countries’ popular dishes. “Most students will cook their own food … Usually what they’ll cook is a little bite-sized taste of the culture, so there won’t be a whole meal from each table,” says International Student Association President Morgan Bower, a senior environmental studies student from Nassau, Bahamas.

Bower and ISA have been planning this event since November 2021, assisted by Olivier Debure, the director of international student services and faculty adviser for ISA. He offered Bower inspiration from past festivals and helped with general logistics.

“The festival can only take place thanks to the generosity and the dedication of our international students who volunteer to share their cultures in a fun and instructive way,” Debure says. “They spend a lot of time thinking of ways to participate and to make it a worthwhile event for all.”