Approximately 100 people in formal and traditional attire celebrated the diverse culture at Northwest with food, music and dance in a candle-lit room.
International Student Organization hosted its annual dinner with food from countries like India, Nepal, Mexico and Thailand April 19 in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom.
The event started with a Nepalese instrumental duet by juniors Susan Maharjan and Saroj Poudel, playing the bansuri (a bamboo flute) and the madal (a drum).
After dinner, junior Talitha Santana Baez and sophomore Kylie Miller performed a hip-hop dance.
“We wanted to dance because we just want to have fun,” Santana Baez said. “Hip-hop is also part of culture. It’s not just what you think culture is. It’s also dance, language and how you express yourself.”
Other performances included freshman Priya Poudyal covering the song Riptide by Vance Joy, Bob and Group presenting a group dance and Canon Band performing a traditional Nepalese song.
ISO president and junior Abha Niraula organized the event to bring ethnic foods to the Northwest community.
“I feel like a lot of international students don’t get enough (ethnic) food here,” Niraula said. “We either have to cook it ourselves or go to Kansas City (Missouri) to find food from home. … We just wanted everyone to come together, get some good food and watch some amazing performances.”
ISO spent around two months planning out the details for the dinner. Maharjan was excited to receive an email from the planning committee about performance sign-ups.
He was excited to meet people from different backgrounds.
“We can include everyone around the world,” Maharjan said. “People who go to this event can learn many things that happen outside of the United States. Some people come here to meet people from other countries and make connections with.”
Niraula wanted to have a space where everyone was represented.
“We pride ourselves, at Northwest, on our diversity,” Niraula said. “So I think it’s important that we recognize each other’s cultures, respect them and be involved in other’s cultures.”
ISO adviser Erika Lees enjoyed the performances most, even when she didn’t understand the words to certain songs.
“We have a lot of talented students here at Northwest,” Lees said. “(I enjoy seeing) them get to show off their talents by playing some traditional instruments or singing songs from their home country. Like one student (the singer of Canon Band) said tonight, even if you don’t understand the words, you can still enjoy the music.”
After the performances, Niraula announced the end of the program and thanked everyone for coming.
People stayed an extra 40 minutes to take pictures with the silver backdrop and dance to music from all over the world, DJed by Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion Adam Gonzales.
“Since we already have the room, we’d figured we’d have people come in and dance,” Niraula said.
Lees was happy with the turnout for the event.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who came,” Lees said. “I know it’s a holiday weekend. A lot of people went home, but we still had a really good turnout. A lot of people really appreciated the event.”