International Day marked with enthusiasm

Images from the International Office.

David Lam event cancelled due to lack of participation 

By Glauce Fleury, Contributor

Students and staff members learned a lot about world cultures last week without leaving the familiarity of the college as Douglife’s International Day celebrated diversity at the New Westminster campus. Enthusiastic was the recurrent word to describe the big party, where more than 100 volunteers celebrated world culture with exhibitions of dance, song, cuisine, and lifestyle.

“It was awesome to see the booths so decorated and students involved. The event was successful, better than I expected,” said Mehrnaz Kobari, International Student Advisor in charge of the many booths that temporarily occupied the New Westminster concourse.

The International Day was scheduled to happen at David Lam campus on January 31, but it was canceled. According to Kobari, the event depends basically on volunteers. “We tried to get students from that campus involved, but we couldn’t,” said Kobari, mentioning that nobody showed up for the meeting. To Scott Fraser-Dauphinee, Campus Life Coordinator, promoting the event in Coquitlam was challenging. “We’re trying to address changes so students get involved,” he said. Anna Schachner, Campus Life Coordinator in David Lam campus, noted it was hard to recruit students there because there’s no social space. Another aspect is some departments don’t run activities daily, like it happens in New Westminster.

“When there’s a community feeling, students tend to gather more. When there’s not, they come to campus and then go home,” Schachner said. Despite her reflection, she believes in changes. “We had more volunteers this year, so a better culture is starting.”

According to Fraser-Dauphinee, the Coffee and Tea House was busy the whole day and the performances scheduled with no breaks flowed really well. “The senior management team was there, proud of what students were doing,” he said. “These students put more effort and energy in this year, and made the event more engaging and interacting.”

The volunteers represented their culture as best as they could, maybe remembering there was a competition: visitors were asked to vote for the best booth, and Latin America was the most voted. “I never thought of winning. When we’re really passionate about our country, we feel like doing things,” said the Colombian Catalina Canon. “It was my best experience here. I really enjoyed it.”

Alina Alimbetova, a Douglas student, also volunteered last year. “A Kazakhstan Society had just opened in Canada, so we wanted to let people know more about our lifestyle to see how open-minded we are,” said Alimbetova. Alimbetova said that she met a lot of people because of the event, and this year she didn’t want to be aside. “I enjoyed more this year, especially because we had more Latins and I’m very interested in their culture.”

Iranian Mojgan Shirmohammadi started studying at Douglas on January 2012, but this was her first time volunteering for the International Day. “It was such a good feeling to represent my culture,” she said. “I was surprised with some students’ knowledge because some of them knew greetings in Persian.”

Being three years out from Brazil, Bruno Aronis says he had a lot of fun talking to people and playing cavaquinho, an important instrument in Brazilian music. “I had no idea about what the event was, but after the first meeting I realized how fun it would be,” he says. He was also surprised about people’s knowledge about Brazil. “Most of them knew the Capital is Brasilia and that we speak Portuguese.”