Students from within the San Fernando Valley as well as different parts of the world attended the International Students Club’s Culture Festival 2012 to represent their heritage and learn about different customs March 10.
The event, held in the Great Hall and supervised by club’s president Maiko Sakura, featured international food, music, art and dancing.
Sakura joined the International Students Club when she moved to America from Japan three years ago.
She hopes that the club will help other international students make friends like it helped her, she said.
“Most foreign students come to America by themselves,” she said. “When I first came to America, I didn’t understand English at all. I joined this club. People helped me and encouraged me.”
For Anna Alimkina, an international student from Russia, the club and theCulture Festival have been a way to share her culture with her peers.
“I’ve been here for maybe five months. . . I love it,” she said.
Alimkina performed two Russian songs during the festival, one traditional and another more modern song.
“[I want] to introduce the diversity of culture to other students,” Alimkina said.
Alimkina, 24, is currently majoring in environmental science, but would like to switch to political science in the near future. As a member of the International Students Club, she strives to make everyone feel welcome and at home.
“International club is a good thing and we want everyone to join . . . it unites people,” Alimkina said.
Mandeera Wijetunga, the treasurer of the International Students Club, understands that many of the students in attendance at the event are not international, but from America.
“Some students haven’t been outside the country,” Wijetunga said. “Today’s main purpose is to celebrate culture within Pierce College.”
These local students were not excluded from the celebration. Several participated in the performance aspect of the event, presenting modern American songs and break dancing.
One student from the United States who attended the festival was Edgar Rodriguez, 21, a philosophy major.
“As an American born Salvadorian, I feel disconnected from my country . . . it’s important to rediscover that,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted to check out the art contest and I wanted to see what this multicultural festival had to offer.”
The art contest featured sculptures, paintings, and drawings that represented the most prevalent or traditional art styles from the country affiliated with the artist. Guests of the festival were invited to vote for their favorite piece.
The winner was Maiqui Layaoen, who moved to the United States from the Philippines five years ago. Her artwork was heavily influenced by her heritage.
“It’s the Pilipino culture,” she said. “I would like to represent the Philippines because we’re cool.”
The festival was held not only to promote diversity and educate students about different cultures, but also as a way to relax and have fun before finals, said Wijetunga.
Richard Magana, the secretary of the International Students Club, acted as the master of ceremonies for the event, introducing each performer.
Almost 20 different performances took place throughout the day, beginning with Alimkina’s songs.
Aside from singing, other routines consisted of dancing, showcasing traditional outfits, spoken word, and monologues about their home countries and journeys to America.
“The purpose of the festival is to raise awareness of diversity in our college,” Magana said.
Magana hopes that the event will encourage students to join the International Students Club.
The club accepts all students and meets Wednesdays at 12:40 p.m. in room 1205 of the English building, and Thursdays at 12:40 p.m. in room 3208 of the Business Center.
“Trust me, you’re going to make friends . . . learn languages,” Magana said to the attendants of the event. “You’ll taste international foods, and drink and dance.”
Sakura also hopes that students, both international and local, will join the club and become more strongly united.
“By joining this club, a person’s view becomes great,” Sakura said. “We can have friends from all over the world.”