No matter what age you are or corner of the world you’re from, there was something for you at Global Festival. The annual event that took place two weekends ago is a unique opportunity to get a taste of the international ingredients that make up MSU’s cultural melting pot.

The Union transformed into a showcase of diverse traditions and patriotism where students welcomed attendees to experience where they come from. For many, their favorite part of the event was stopping at every table and learning about the diverse countries and regions from the proud students who organized their displays. Others came to watch one of the breathtaking performances by students who got up on stage and shared their culture through traditional dancing, singing, or instrument playing.

I attend and look forward to Global Festival every year. This year, though, rather than going as an onlooker as I normally do, I organized my own table and represented my country of origin. By doing this, I experienced Global Festival from an entirely different point of view.

When attending in the past, it hadn’t occurred to me how personal and meaningful it is to students participating in Global Festival that they put the best foot of their home country forward. Many people attending the festival will likely encounter a culture that they have had little to no previous immersion in. When considering this, it’s no wonder that the participants put so much work into the approach they take to adequately display their ethnicity during this day-long international extravaganza. Global Festival is an ideal opportunity to show people a significant part of who they are.

When I stood at my table, I was excited to share with those who passed by the customs, history, and heritage that I’ve grown up with. I enjoyed seeing their reactions to my traditional dress and watching children pick up the cultural artifacts that I set out as a part of my display. Exposing onlookers to various pieces that make up my ethnic puzzle made me feel like I was inviting them into my home and serving them a slice of my ancestry. It created the atmosphere of a close-knit community. I was proud to introduce this side of my life to them. I was even more proud to know that I live in a community where people are so eager to learn about something so, for a lack of better words, foreign.

Overall, it was an experience that brought me closer to my ethnic roots as well as my present day community. I encourage anyone who would like to bring a piece of their home country to East Lansing to participate in Global Festival. It’s your chance to strengthen that part of who you are by sharing it with all who attend.

Dena Elian is an International Relations Senior at MSU’s James Madison College. Currently, she is the Experiential Learning Intern at OISS. Her campus activities include involvement with organizations that promote Middle Eastern politics and Arab Culture.