By Jay Pham
Students and faculty took part in the first ever Pensacola State College International Festival, representing a variety of cultures by designing information boards, cooking native dishes, and bringing in cultural items to share with everyone.
Held on November 29, the multi-club sponsored event promoted the new Robinson Honors Program and was a terrific way for students and staff to learn about cultures and traditions throughout the world and on campus.
For instance, students tasted delicious spaetzle, a German cuisine provided by the Student Government Association (SGA) that boasts rich flavors and looks like mac n’ cheese from afar, while learning about Germany post-WWII.
“I think that it’s a fantastic way for people to share their culture, and for people to learn about cultures they may not have explored before,” said Jennifer Ehrhardt, 16-year English and Communications Professor at PSC.
According to a 2016 study, A Survey on Global Literacy by Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass and National Geographic President Gary Knell, “Many students simply are not prepared to understand the world they will enter. This will have adverse consequences for their individual prosperity.”
Of course, not all event goers were culturally ill-informed. There were some International students that wanted to experience what PSC’s International Fest had to offer.
“I go to this school and I heard about [International Festival],” said Teewon Daub, Education major at PSC. “I have friends all over the world, and I thought this was cool.”
Ehrhardt baked Swedish gingerbread cookies that received great responses from students. “We made the gingerbread house from scratch,” said Ehrhardt. “That took six hours or so and it’s 100% edible.”
Tasty food represented 15 different countries; such as SGA’s Japanese yaki udon and Ukraine’s sauerkraut. “It was great, I didn’t know there were going to be this many countries,” said Ashley Wilson, a PSC Mathematics major.
“There was so much good food, but the gingerbread cookies were my favorite,” Wilson said. “I’ll probably eat more.”
Food wasn’t the only attraction at the festival. Each table had pictures, fun facts, and helpers that were more than happy to share their culture with curious students.
“I learned that there are still a lot of countries I have to visit still,” said Benny Segovia, a Physical Therapy Assistant major and Active Minds representative for Saudi Arabia. “In Saudi Arabia, women just recently were allowed to drive.” Segovia also represented Mexico for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
There were also non-PSC students that came to experience the fun at the Fest such as Keith Dickson, a University of West Florida (UWF) freshman that is pursuing his Electrical Engineering degree. “I learned a couple of things about the African culture that I didn’t know leading up to today.”
To add on to the wonderful food and worldwide information, the African American Student Association (AASA) prepared a fashion show for guests. The runway had representatives from each part of the world showing their sassy catwalk while being cheered on by the crowd.
Ehrhardt was a participant of the show and represented Sweden with a hat that was lit with real candles. “I haven’t worn my light candles in maybe 30 years,” said Ehrhardt. “once you learn how to put candles in your hair you never forget.”
Many more events promoting culture awareness are held at the student center throughout the school year, but that doesn’t mean only students should attend. Professors and instructors are encouraged to take part and celebrate with the student body as well as the community.
“It’s a chance to bridge between the different populations on campus,” said Ehrhardt. “So as a professor I get to hang out with students, be goofy, have candles hanging off my hair, and hang out with my colleagues for a good cause.I get to know people at a totally different level than in the classroom.”