Sampling Other Countries

The USF International Festival featured information on travel abroad and a window into other cultures.


By Brandi Hollis

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 26, 2012) – They sampled exotic foods, learned bits of new languages and searched family origins.


Those were just some of the activities featured during the recent International Festival at the University of South Florida, an event earlier this month attended by hundreds of students that kicked off with a parade of flags at the MLK plaza.


The annual festival, in its third year, is hosted by INTO USF, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, USF World, Center for Student Involvement, and USF Student Government. It gives students an opportunity to learn about study abroad programs at USF and talk to people from those countries.


USF Global Ambassadors handed out “passports” to tour countries in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.


At the Saudi Arabia table students tried Saudi coffee, delicious on its own but even better with the dried dates recommended to go with it. At the Taiwan table, you could learn how to write your name in Chinese, and at the Chinese table you could play the Chinese version of hacky-sack. In Europe, students could look up the origins of their name.


“Coming to each booth is really cool,” said Hiba Fatima, a sophomore majoring in microbiology, “because you’re talking to a person who is actually from that country rather than reading about it in a book. So you learn the more cultural aspects that they don’t cover in books.”


When done touring the tables, students sampled delicious food from around the world. The shepherd’s pie and sausage rolls from Ireland could be smelled across the lawn and drew a crowd as well as the Chinese eggrolls.


Many students got into international spirit and got information about trips and courses offered in countries they liked. Jim Pulos, assistant director of USF Education Abroad, was on hand to answer questions about traveling with the school.


The International Festival also gives students that have recently come to USF from abroad a chance to meet their USF family. Wan-Yu Liao, a freshman majoring in marketing who just moved to Tampa from Taiwan, enjoyed the chance to get to meet fellow students on campus and share her culture.


“[USF] is lovely,” said Liao, “The people are very friendly, and they want to learn about Taiwan and their name in Chinese.”


Global Ambassador Alexa Arata, a senior in Elementary Education, promotes study abroad as an ambassador but says she promotes traveling to another country to students even when she isn’t working. Arata laughed when asked if she enjoyed her trip to Europe.


“Yes, absolutely,” she said. “One hundred percent best experience ever!”