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International Day focuses on solidarity through celebration

Photo by Matthew Martinez

Photo by Matthew Martinez

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Whether students wanted to hear the sounds of an Egyptian drum, have their names written in Chinese or taste rare foods from across the world, International Day, hosted by the Office of International Education, was the time to do it.

The event is a place for international students to display aspects of their cultures through food, music and presentations. This Marquette tradition connects students with other students, OIE’s Susan Whipple said.

“I think this event is more fun and draws more than a lecture would,” Whipple said.

The 33rd annual International Day emphasized a new theme: solidarity through celebration. Showing support for those affected by President Trump’s recent travel ban, the table showcasing Iran was allowed to serve a full Persian lunch, catered by the Shahrazad restaurant on Oakland Avenue. Normal Sodexo policies would have prohibited a catered lunch from being served.

University Provost Dan Myers spoke at the event, telling the story of his son who has an Iranian roommate and business partner. Myers used the opportunity to express the importance of diversity, in not only nationality, but perspective.

“It would be a real poverty if we lost that ability to have connection with you,” Myers said.

Myers cited Marquette’s Jesuit values as a driving force behind the university’s devotion to inclusion, saying it was the Jesuit position to welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.

“Tomorrow will be National Marquette Day, but we like to think of it as International Marquette Day,” Myers said. “We are Marquette, and all are welcome here.”

National Marquette Day will be celebrated in 58 countries, according to Whipple. OIE is expecting 74 watching parties around the world.

“The Marquette Nation is global,” Whipple said.

Marquette has 671 international students from around the world. Mohamad Ali, a research assistant at Marquette, attended Tehran University and came to Marquette for the research opportunities, claiming the researchers in the U.S. are more free to pursue their work.

“You can do anything here,” Ali said.

As an Iranian, Ali is now unable to return to his home and re-enter the U.S. His parents, who have visited him the last two years, are unable to enter the U.S. Events like International Day give Ali a chance to dispel the negative image that he believes is falsely given to Iran.

“We are here to show what we are, what we have and what we want to do,” Ali said.

Hesham Hassanin, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, is from Cairo, Egypt. He originally came to Milwaukee School of Engineering but then transferred to Marquette. He said Cairo is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

“Cairo does not have the tall buildings and skyscrapers,” Hassanin said. “If you go there, you will find yourself surrounded by very old, very beautiful buildings.”

Hassanin played a drum typically used in stadiums, and as he demonstrated a chant, he pounded the drum three times and yelled “Egypt!”

Krystal Chao, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, was born in Hong Kong. She lives in McCormick and exhibited candy and green tea to showcase China. She also offered to write students’ names in Chinese.

“Writing in Chinese is like an art,” Chao said.

Vashti Marin, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, is from Belize. According to Marin, Belize is home to many diverse cultures, including Creole and Mayan. Marin says that there are still secluded Mayan villages in Belize where the ancient language and customs have remained intact for thousands of years, adding to the variety of cultures.

“You’re bombarded by a lot of culture!” Marin said.

These are just a few of the many countries and cultures represented at Marquette’s International Day.

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