Culture through experience

International Education Week hosts events celebrating diversity


Christina Docenko’s interest in other cultures was piqued when she walked into the Student Union Monday.

Docenko, a sophomore electrical engineering student, left Monday’s festivities of International Education Week with a fresh new perspective on cultural diversity.

From Nov. 10-14, the Office of International Students and Scholar Services held International Education Week, which included cultural events, presentations and keynote speakers.

On Monday, 14 international clubs were in the SU lobby celebrating the week through traditional cultural dances, music and food. The rest of the week included other events like a cultural forum on Nepal and Tibet and keynote speakers focused on sustainability.

“The purpose of International Education Week is to highlight the benefits of global learning and student exchanges – understand why such exchanges are important and recognize that our community is more than just what we are familiar with,” said Tazrin Hossain, a junior political science major and Student Association’s international coordinator.

Hossain said the point of International Education Week is to connect students with other cultures because UB has a large and diverse population.

On Friday, the International Fashion Show hosted its sixth show in the SU lobby. The Afghan SA, Bangladeshi SA, Korean American SA, Latin American SA, Malaysian SA, Persian SA and Russian Ukrainian SA all showcased their cultural clothing, Hossain said.

And it's not every day student havce chance to see salsa or Bhangra performances.

“It’s not every day that we can see people dancing the salsa or practicing Bhangra dance,” Docenko said.

Bhangra dance, the dance Docenko stopped to watch, is a traditional Punjabi folk dance celebrating the harvest season of the Punjab region in northwestern India.

Harbind Brar, a senior psychology and biological sciences major, is captain of UB’s Bhangra team.

“People really enjoyed our performance, saying they liked the energetic vibe our dance gave,” Brar said. “I really think that the Filipino American and Latin American Student Associations really stood out with their unique styles of dance.”

The UB Bhangra team also performed Thursday at the World Bazaar event hosted by the Intercultural and Diversity Center, which included dozens of additional performances from groups, like the Argentine Tango Club and the Organization of Arab Students. The Bhangra team was one of nine groups performing a cultural dance routine Monday.

During Thursday’s World Bazaar, a crowd of roughly 75 students gathered in a circle to watch a tango dance performance. Brar said he thinks the success of International Education Week is based on the large crowds in the SU during performances.

Docenko said she enjoyed watching the dances and showed particular interest in the Latin American performances.

“I think I love UB because at a lot of other smaller schools you can’t walk into a building and get exposed to something like that,” said Mitchell Krumm, a sophomore art major. “The fashion show was a really cool thing to see. Some of the styles I recognized but others were totally new to me.”

Allen Ng, a sophomore computer science major, said the week is a mere glimpse into the melting pot of culture of UB’s student body.

“It’s just awesome being able to walk into the Union and learn about another culture,” Ng said.

UB scored a .53 on a diversity index for national universities, which used ethnicity breakdown as the criteria, according to U.S. News Report. The closer the index number is to one indicates a higher diversity.

“UB is an excellent example of a melting pot, with students coming from all over the world,” Brar said. “I think it’s up to the students to actively seek out different culture events on campus.”

Brar said he thinks it is easy for students at UB to learn about different cultures through exposure.

“Whenever I turn at UB, there is someone who has different experiences than I do and that’s why I think [International Education Week] is a particularly engaging way to motivate students to interact beyond their ‘bubble,’” Hossain said.