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40th International Festival highlights week of activities focusing on world cultures

The Western Carolina University community will celebrate the cultures and traditions of its diverse student population April 8-12 with the 40th annual International Festival, the inaugural Asian Pacific American Heritage Week and a concert featuring a world-fusion trio from Asheville.

WCU’s Office of International Programs and Services will host the International Festival as the event marks four decades on campus Wednesday, April 10. The festival is designed to foster cultural awareness, appreciation and understanding of the world’s diversity through music, food, dance, arts and crafts.

Exchange students from Japan cheer on their peers from Saudi Arabia during the dance demonstrations at WCU's 2018 International Festival.

More than 40 national banners will be presented during the flag parade this year. The parade will begin at the Cordelia Camp Building at 11 a.m., with the route including a stop at H.F. Robinson Administration Building before the participants continue toward Belk Building and under the Blue Ridge/Balsam archway to end up at the Catafount at Central Plaza.

The festival welcome will begin at 11:30 a.m. in the fountain area. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, interim chancellor; Carol Burton, acting provost; and Ling LeBeau, director of international programs and services, will participate in the flag parade and welcome attendees. Performances will begin at 11:40 a.m. and include a traditional “Chinese Lion Dance,” a demonstration by the Catamount Dance Crew (a hip-hop dance ensemble of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students from the Catamount School) and Sri Lankan and Indian music by WCU faculty member Channa De Silva and his family. In addition, Japanese calligraphy will be demonstrated by Taketo Ohtani and faculty member Tyler Kinnear’s “World of Music” class will present an Indonesian gamelan angklung performance.

The International Festival provides an opportunity for attendees to sample cuisine from around the world.

The festival performances will conclude with a demonstration of traditional Saudi Arabian dance that will be open for audience participation.

The International Festival will feature more than 25 booths staffed by representatives of various nations, campus departments and services, and community organizations. This year, 17 countries will be represented by international students and study-abroad returnees, with each of those booths offering free food samples. Also, Aramark, the campus food service provider, will be giving out samples, including slices of a special 40th annual celebration cake.

Festival activities will conclude at 2:30 p.m. The event is free and open to everyone.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Week

Asian Pacific American Heritage Week will be celebrated on campus Monday, April 8, through Friday, April 12. The commemorative week originated from Congress in 1979 as a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

Among the activities is a lecture at 6 p.m. April 8 titled “Breaking the Ceiling: Overcoming Challenges as Asians” by Tami Kim, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Virginia. On Wednesday, April 10, Manjula Bharathy, a Fulbright Scholar at Rutgers University and professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India, will present her documentary “XXWhy” that focuses on transgender issues in India. The film was selected as the best documentary at international and national film festivals. All APAH Week events will be held in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center.

WCU’s celebration of APAH Week was initiated by the Office of International Programs and Services and is supported by the Campus Theme Committee, Visiting Scholar Committee, Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Intercultural Affairs, Asian Student Association and faculty from the College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Free Planet Radio

Coming up Thursday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m., the campus community will welcome guest artists Free Planet Radio, a renowned world-fusion trio, on stage in the recital hall of Coulter Building. The event also will include performances by WCU’s Concert Choir and Inspirational Gospel Choir and a Balinese gamelan angklung performance by a music class.

The event is free and open to the public. Sponsors are WCU’s Campus Theme Committee, International Programs and Services, and School of Music, and the Jackson County Arts Council.

For more information about any of the April 8-12 activities, contact the Office of International Programs and Services at 828-227-7494 or


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