By Burke Jensen
BYU offers an entertaining weeklong World Fest as part of an effort to provide cultural understanding and cross training, while allowing international students to show off their cultures.
“The purpose of World Fest is to recognize the international students,” said Adrienne Waters, 20, a junior from Grand Junction, Colo., majoring in audiology and speech pathology, and an employee of international services. “It is their week to shine, tell about where they are from and explain more about their culture.”
This year”s theme is “Building Bridges of Understanding.”
Lane Fischer, dean of students, said World Fest has at least two benefits.
“Our international students are honored and recognized for their rich traditions while they are so far away from home,” Fischer said. “In addition, American students are enriched by engaging with real people who can enhance their understanding of other cultures. That is a great educational benefit.”
Enoc Flores, director of International Services, said, “World Fest is part of our effort to provide cultural understanding and cross-cultural training. Every university has an international office, and they provide some form of a world awareness week. We”ve done it for the 24 years that I”ve been here.”
BYU has the largest international population of all Utah universities, with about 2,000 international students and scholars from 117 different countries.
World Fest is a volunteer effort, with over 500 volunteers and hundreds of hours in preparation for the event, Flores said.
The international office invited the community, international students” host families, and BYU”s faculty and students to attend the events, Flores said.
Provo Mayor Lewis Billings, Provo will speak during the opening ceremony.
BYU”s administration is supportive of World Fest, Fischer said.
“We allocate resources to program this annual event,” he said. “We have a wonderful group of international students who share their cultures with us and enrich our understanding of the world. We want a formal celebration of the richness of the cultural traditions that exist on campus.”
Flores said World Fest can benefit people in ways they may not expect.
“For instance, my brother-in-law just got a job with Intel,” he said. “He is now in Japan, and understanding the culture is important.”
Oliver Nina said he helped represent Peru in the booths last year and will help again this year.
“We brought instruments such as pan flutes called a zambono and a little guitar called the charango to the booth,” Nina said. “I had a good time last year and expect another good time.”