Jane Ziolkowski, Contributing Writer
Wednesday, March 19, the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business hosted an International Day to expose students to different cultures. The day kicked off at 11 a.m. with the International Parade of Flags, sponsored by the International Student Association. Throughout the day, students stopped to watch the dancers of different backgrounds on the Mall.
Students watched as the dancers displayed both their talent and brightly-colored costumes. Performances included swaying Hawaiian hula dancers, twirling Indian dancers and drum-beating Aztec dancers. One of the most arresting performances was by the Chinese lion dancers, who wove in and out of the large crowd gathered near the Science Building.
“It was a little weird, but it was also pretty cool, with both dancers coordinating with each other in the same costume,” said senior Alex MacDonald.
Senior Rebekah Spearman also enjoyed watching the dance. She voiced a desire to participate in the diversity presented, though she missed some of the aspects from last year.
“Where were the camels? I wanted to ride one,” she said.
The event took many students by surprise. Arriving to school in the morning, many had not expected to find the Mall taken up by a series of stalls offering free food and selling internationally sourced jewelry and trinkets.
The lack of awareness may have accounted for the fact that only one undergraduate attended “An Evening of High Tea,” hosted at 5:30 p.m. in Gorman Faculty Lounge. At this event, as graduate students watched from folding chairs, the performers moved stiffly around a bamboo mat in traditional Japanese dress.
While two “guests” waited, sitting straight up on their knees, the “host” executed choreographed movements to heat the water, make the tea and present it to the guests. The narrator explained that these movements are practiced for years, so that participants in the ceremony can carry them out perfectly, simply relying on muscle memory. The entire ceremony, explained the narrator, is marked by the four main high tea principles: harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. In stark contrast to a traditional American-style meal, the guests and the host said little.
Everything that the performers did say was oriented toward showing respect, not only for the others present, but also for the beauty and passing nature of the present moment. This was the “less formal” part of the traditionally four-hour long ceremony. Afterwards, the students assembled were treated to the same traditional Japanese sweets that are essential to the tea ceremony, presented with the same formal graciousness.
Junior Clare Myers wishes there were more opportunities like this to celebrate the astonishing variety of cultures in which humans can thrive.
“I’m a big fan of International Day. Who doesn’t like free food and getting to see awesome dances on the Mall? But I feel like a lot more could be done with it. One day isn’t really enough; a lot of students only had the chance to grab a churro and glance at the Indian dancers between classes. I’d love to see International Day expanded into International Week, so that we have time to truly appreciate a diversity of cultures.”