A Vibrant Fusion of Cultures: UD’s Festival of Nations Unites International Students and Community

Young artists from the Chinese American Community Center.
Young artists from the Chinese American Community Center.

The Festival of Nations was a resounding success, drawing in more than 600 attendees of different ages and backgrounds

Newark, Delaware—On October 6, 2023, the University of Delaware (UD) was transformed into a colorful tapestry of cultures as international students came together to celebrate the annual Festival of Nations. This vibrant event, sponsored by UD’s own English Language Institute (ELI), showcased a rich mosaic of traditions, music, talent, and clothing from around the world.

The festival kicked off with opening remarks by the College of Arts and Sciences dean and ELI director followed by beautiful performances by UD students, including Acapella and Indian dance, and a Tai Chi performance. Included in the program was a dazzling performance by Middle Eastern students who mesmerized the audience with a rhythmic dance that smoothly transitioned into an exciting Arabic hit. The crowd couldn’t help feeling moved by the music, and the room quickly filled with cheers of approval as the dancers shifted to an energetic pop beat. The energy was contagious, setting the tone for a night of cultural exploration and celebration.

The Japanese pop segment caught the spotlight as ELI’s own students danced on the stage, captivating the audience with their dynamic performance. The festival also featured a captivating fashion showcase, where members of the UD community proudly modeled costumes from their home countries, including Chinese cheongsams and Middle Eastern garments. Each step down the runway was a step closer to bridging the gap among cultures and fostering understanding.

The Festival of Nations was a resounding success, drawing in more than 600 attendees of different ages and backgrounds. Abdulrahman Alajmi, an ELI student from Kuwait who oversaw the Kuwaiti table in the culture fair, shared his excitement about the festival because “I get to meet new people and learn about new cultures.” Abdulrahman encouraged attendees to embrace the exchange of cultures and enjoy the diverse performances of both international and domestic students. “Visiting tables is like visiting countries,” he remarked, highlighting the wealth of cultural diversity on display.

At the Japanese table, Yuto Tanaka, a 19-year-old student majoring in Finance at the University of Tokyo, engaged visitors by writing their names in Japanese. Tanaka, who began his studies at ELI in August and will complete his course in December, emphasized how Newark’s life and diversity have enriched his cultural experience. He shared his love for local cuisine, particularly Oishii Ocean Japanese & Cajun Seafood Restaurant.

Wen Qi, an international student who started her ELI journey a year ago and is now pursuing a master’s degree at UD’s College of Education and Human Development, shared her pride in representing China in the culture fair. Qi and her classmates showcased their traditional Chinese heritage, displaying the flag and elegant traditional clothing. For her, the Festival of Nations embodied the spirit of cultural exchange and mutual respect. “There were countries I didn’t even know about until today,” Qi exclaimed. “The expressions and spirits were truly immense this evening, with everyone warmly welcoming us.” She added that interacting with local and international people had made her transition to this new environment seamless.

The Festival of Nations not only celebrates cultural diversity but also acts as a bridge that connects international students with the local community. Adil Bentahar, an assistant professor at the English Language Institute and the chair of this year’s event, reiterated the importance of “UD departments and units connecting with the larger community,” and the festival is “evidence of such successful collaborations” that extend beyond campus. In his closing remarks, Adil, a former international student himself, expressed his “immense honor and responsibility to represent [his] Moroccan culture” before inviting fellow international students and scholars, whom he described as “moving cultures,” to “remain proud of their heritage and identities and continue to share your love and knowledge to make this world richer and more tolerant.”

As the UD community came together to learn, appreciate, and celebrate the world’s myriad cultures, it was a testament to the university’s commitment to fostering a global perspective and creating a welcoming environment for all. The festival’s success serves as a reminder that understanding and embracing different cultures can bring people closer together, transcending borders and boundaries.

For more information about University of Delaware’s English Language Institute, visit https://sites.udel.edu/eli/ or call +1-302-831-2674.

The above article was written by ELI student, Bashar Taha Altemeemy and published in Morocco World News.


About cmanneri

Christy is a graduate of the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware with a master's in Public Administration. She is the chief operating officer of a local non-profit, 3B Brae’s Brown Bags and a Communications Specialist for the University of Delaware. Her research interests include issues of social justice, such as nutritional insecurity, community re-entry, and domestic violence. She also volunteers with her local school district and has a deep passion for education policy, as she believes many social injustices stem from inequitable opportunities in education.
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