Global Festival engages multiple cultures of community

The first annual Global Festival brought Oakland University’s campus together to celebrate the different cultures present at the university.

The festival, presented by the International Allies Organization (IAO), took place Friday, Feb. 7 and featured cultural performances and various multicultural clubs and organizations from within and around OU.

“We wanted to create a space that everybody can come and to feel open and safe to celebrate all the cultures that are celebrated here at Oakland University,” said Alexis Asaro, president of the IAO and one of the main coordinators of the event. 

Abby Sachs, treasurer of the IAO and one of the main coordinators, said there was a lot of student involvement in the creation and execution of the festival.  

“It’s a combination of efforts by students and professional staff to celebrate the diversity on Oakland’s campus,” she said. “It’s really exciting to see the community get involved and be excited about this event.” 

There were over 15 informational booths surrounding the room where students could go to find out more about the different clubs available on campus. Several of these booths involved activities so guests could actively participate in the festival. 

Yu Liu, president of the Chinese Honor Society, brought Chinese art crafts and calligraphy to the festival, showing guests how to write their name in Chinese characters with traditional brushes. 

“I’m glad people like my culture,” he said. “I think it’s pretty neat that we can also spread the knowledge and the culture among the young kids.”

The IAO’s booth was where Vice President Damilola Alao provided students with information about the organization. This organization has a “buddy system” where students of similar interests get matched together.

“What our aim is is for students across campus, regardless of your nationality, to be able to come together and make friendships,” she said.  

Throughout the event, different cultures showcased 13 traditional performances, including instruments, songs and dances.

Andreea Bordeianu, a College of Arts and Sciences adviser, brought Romanian culture to the festival by getting audience members up and on their feet for the Romanian Hora dance, which she described as a symbolic dance where people hold hands and celebrate together.

Bordeianu enjoyed seeing people from all over the world come together to participate in the Hora dance, and said participating in the dance felt like home. 

“It’s so important to have events like this where we can all come together and celebrate things that we can all enjoy, and learn new things about people who might be different from us,” Sachs said.

Working in the International Students and Scholars Office, Sachs said international students sometimes struggle with feeling connected to the community and figuring out where they fit in at an American campus, making events like this even more important. 

“It’s great to have nights like this so that [international students] can really feel like they’re a part of Oakland, and Oakland celebrates all the things that make them unique,” Sachs said.

Bordeianu said it is important for OU students to have the kind of exposure to other cultures the Global Festival was able to provide.   

“Coming to this festival is an eye opening experience, and you can make friends around the world right here at Oakland University,” she said.