UF International Night 2019
At the end of March, campus celebrated 50 years of a Findlay tradition — International night!
This was my second year of celebrating this event, and I am so proud to write a blog about one of the most amazing nights each year at Findlay. According to UF’s Buford Center for Diversity and Service, the first International Night was celebrated in 1969. A page from the yearbook from that year reads: “Foreign foods, customs, entertainment, and even an Indian wedding were highlights of International Night. This event was a first in the history of Findlay College. Dr. Parimal Das, a scholar-in-residence from India, coordinated the event. A dinner of many different foreign foods began the festivities, following these many booths were located throughout the Union representing different countries of the world.”
I also had the opportunity to join the event coordinator, Jennifer Butler, from UF’s Buford Center for Diversity and Service on UFTV’s Art and Culture show hosted by Director of Student Activities, Sharinda Welton. We talked about the history of the event, and what was planned for the 50th anniversary celebration.
The event was born because of religion professor Dr. Raeburn Wallen. In the sixties, he spent much of his time traveling, and eventually began recruiting international students. He would often invite international students to his home and invite them to share cultures. He really believed in learning from them. Tammy Wallen Gory, shared memories that as the international student population at Findlay grew, their home became too small for these gatherings, so they moved to campus. It was with this idea that International Night officially in began 1969, in the Alumni Memorial Union. It now takes place in the Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex.
After so many years it has grown so much larger. This year almost 1500 people (from campus and the Findlay community) joined the program to see students from 23 countries sharing their cultures through food, cultural displays, dancing, songs, games, and a fashion show.
I am also proud and really blessed to write that I got a huge surprise when Dr. Chris Sippel announced my name as the 2019-2020 recpient of the Penny L Gerdeman International scholarship Award, which is given annually to a returning student that exemplifies the characteristics of being a “servant leader.” I was crying tears of joy, and the award made me realize that my responsibility to uphold diversity within our community has been doubled.
This night could not happen without all of the wonderful volunteers! This year over 72 students, faculty, staff, and community volunteers helped to make this night happen. I couldn’t have made so much food, set up my country’s booth or pulled off the friendship dance by Bangladesh, India, and Nepal without the help of my friends, Rohil Shah, Jacquelyn Grace Morris, Jobanjot Singh Hundal, Drew Toon, Nashat Khan and Luna Kafle. Thanks to all of them!
Have you missed this event somehow? Then I encourage you to come and join us next year, to be a part of an incredibly diverse night and help to uphold the diversity of our community.