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CSU World Unity Fair celebrates diversity with dancing, food and an international bazaar

In the East Ballroom of the Lory Student Center Saturday night, Ayesha Khalid, explained her heritage as part the 58th annual World Unity Fair.

 

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Khalid, who came to CSU from Pakistan in August to study mechanical engineering, helped with a booth for the Pakistan Rams Society (Pak Rams), a student group for individuals who want to explore Pakistani heritage.

 

“We love to share our culture,” said Khalid, who was dressed in traditional Pakistani clothing. “People have misinterpretations about Pakistan and when they see us we change their mind by just being what we are.”

 

The World Unity Fair included participation by students from more than 25 countries and cultures including Malaysian Student Association, Turkish Student Organization and Saudi Student House.

 

Hermella Yilma, junior and President of Africans United hoped the fair would give people an opportunity to talk about issues that are common amongst people.

 

“We want to promote diversity with events like this, maybe more classes on diversity,” Yilma said.

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Yilma became a part of Africans United her freshman year, then assuming the position of treasurer her sophomore year.

 

“There’s not much diversity here, but with AU I found a niche,” Yilma said.

 

AU was one of the many groups who performed in the stage show at the fair in the new auditorium.

 

The Kuwaiti Club also performed music from their country, paired with sporadic dancing and clapping and singing along from the audience.

 

Also on the stage, the Indian Student Association performed a Bollywood piece and Chinese opera singer Xiaohan Wang also performed, delighting audience members.

 

The Fort Collins International Center, an on-campus presence of over 45 years, was also represented at the event.

 

The center is a community non-profit organization that acts as a bridge between international students and the community, as well as those in the community who have international connections.

 

Their mission statement of “enhancing international understanding, culture exchange and friendship” is reflected in their International Friends program.

 

Lisa Bogdanski, representative from the center, said that one of their goals is to pair students with families in the area as a sort of temporary family.

 

“Several years ago a study was done that said that 80 percent of international students never see the inside of an American home,” Bogdanski said.

 

The International Center also organizes hikes, snow-shoeing outings and other activities to introduce international students to common activities in the area.

 

“We want to get them out of academia for a while,” Bogdanski said.

 

Many international students take what they have learned and come back to their country with a better understanding of the American culture, some of which they internalize and share when they return.

 

Khalid said that she was told that CSU is one of the best places to come for international students. When coming here, Khalid didn’t expect people to be so welcoming.

 

“I’m not used to people smiling and waving and opening doors for people,” Khalid said. “It’s really easy to talk to people here.”

 

But one of the things she misses the most about Pakistan is the food.

 

“I like spicy food,” she said. “American food is bland, and the desserts are too sweet and too many.”

 

Khalid will participate in workshops back in Pakistan to teach her peers about what she’s done so far in her travels and studies.

 

“I’m going to tell them how it is,” Khalid said. “It’s normal, it’s not like the movies.”

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