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International Night 2019: Leave Your Mark on the World

International night featured food, dance and culture from countries all around the globe.

Students from over 100 different countries make up the diverse international population at the University of Utah. Their unique backgrounds and perspectives are celebrated every fall at International Night. This annual event is hosted by the International Student Council (ISC) and International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

This year’s event theme was “Leave Your Mark on the World” because each international student brings a unique background and perspective to our campus that creates a lasting impact.

Nov. 15, 2019, marked the largest International Night in the U’s history, with over 600 people in attendance. Guests had the opportunity to engage with amazing students from all over the world, as they shared their cultural heritage through artistic performances in this safe, welcoming and celebratory space.

Collin Vijenandan in 2017, 2018 and 2019 (clockwise from top left)

Around the world with song and dance

The evening was packed full of lively music and vibrant color as 18 performance groups brought their talents and cultures to the Union stage. Acts from India, Poland, Mexico, China, Pakistan, Brazil, South Korea and Myanmar, just to name a few, were greeted with thunderous cheering from an audience full of students, family members, staff and community members.

Collin Vijenandan has become a symbol of International Night, and the audience was thrilled to see her back again for her third International Night performance of Indian classical dance. It was clear from her performance that Vijenandan spent many hours practicing the intricate movements to properly represent the beauty of her cultural heritage. We hope to see her back again next year.

Students dressed in Brazilian fashion

International fashion show

For many students studying at the U, the fashion show at International Night is their only opportunity to dress proudly in their cultural clothing. During the fashion show, the audience was treated to a display of energetic colors, flowing patterns and beautiful craftsmanship, as students posed on the stage either with a group or on their own. This was one of our most diverse fashion shows yet, featuring traditional styles from Kenya, Iran, Austria, Mongolia, Nepal, Vietnam and more.

Students from the Indonesian Student Association during the cultural showcase

Cultural showcase

The performers and fashion show models weren’t the only ones getting the attention that night. International student groups, such as the Afghan American Culture Association, the Saudi Student Club and the Indonesian Student Association, lined the Union Corridor with engaging cultural displays. Guests had the opportunity to get a sense of what life is like in these countries, and many of the groups were even offering up snacks.

The extreme popularity of the Korean Student Association’s “Spicy Ramen” challenge and the Brazilian Club’s “brigadeiros” (a traditional dessert made of condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter and chocolate sprinkles) was clear evidence of the power that food has to bring all people together.

Enki Ganbaatar (ISC board member), Jenny Huynh (ISC president), Omid Atlaschian (scholarship recipient), Chelsea Wells (ISSS director)

Presenting the ISC Scholarship

This year’s event was special because the ISC announced the first-ever recipient of their International Student Council Scholarship. The ISC Scholarship is a $500 award funded by proceeds from International Night and given to a current international student who has shown exceptional dedication to promoting intercultural sharing and awareness on campus. For their first-ever recipient, the ISC was thrilled to present the scholarship to Omid Atlaschian, a doctoral student from Iran studying mechanical engineering. Atlaschian has been involved with the international community at the U for years, particularly in developing resources for Iranian and Muslim students. Omid and his wife, Malika, were present at International Night as he was presented this award by ISC President Jenny Huynh and ISSS Director Chelsea Wells.

The ISC would like to sincerely thank the ASUU Diversity Board and all those who participated and supported International Night in any way. For more information on other ISC activities, please join their Facebook group for the most up-to-date event notifications.