Colorful decorations, informational culture booths and flags from many countries fill the Garden Court of the Wilkinson Student Center this week as World Fest kicked off Tuesday at BYU and continues through Friday.
Some 25 countries participating this year display art, information and traditional items from their countries.
Enoc Q. Flores, director of the International Services Office, said he has worked at the office since 1978, with World Fest dating back a few years before that. The ISO holds this traditional event every fall.
“The third week of November has been designated as international education week by President Bill Clinton,” Flores said.
He said the event generally includes culture booths, shows, a food festival and an extravaganza. The number of participating countries varies each year from 20 to 40 or even more.
The ISO has international students give talks at schools around Utah County and inform them about World Fest. Since the ISO organizes this every year, the schools in this area all know about World Fest, Flores said. The schools then reserve the time and take their students to the culture booths.
“We invite the community, we put ads around the city,” he said.
The ISO occasionally faces challenges regarding organizing the event. Sometimes they have fewer participants; however, students always show up and represent their countries. Flores said the World Fest is always successful.
“We know it’s successful because the kids [from local schools] look forward to it every year,” he said.
Farnaz Karimdady, a graduate student from Iran majoring in electrical engineering, represented her country in a well-decorated booth.
“For a couple of days, you get a distraction from your hard work,” Karimdady said. “You have a break and get to know new people. I think it’s good.”
Grant Ellingson, a teacher from Noah Webster Academy, took his group of students to the culture booth on Tuesday morning. This year is the second time he has been to World Fest.
“In sixth grade, we study world history,” Ellingson said. “So they kind of cover the things that we don’t have time to talk about.”
Ellingson said he hoped the booths would have more hands-on items in the future.
The culture booth will continue on Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There also will be daily noon performances. According to a news release, hungry participants will savor authentic cuisine from around the world on Thursday evening, including Brazilian feijoada, Japanese sushi, Mexican tamales, French eclairs and German strudel. Dishes are nominally priced from 50 cents to $1; tickets may be purchased at the door. The event begins at 5 p.m.
The Friday extravaganza includes a three-course banquet and international entertainment featuring students in their traditional dress beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the WSC Ballroom. Tickets may be purchased at the WSC Information Center or by calling International Services at 801-422-2695 for $10 or $14 at the door until tickets are sold out.
Details are available online at internationalservices.byu.edu.