By: Olivia Wile
The University of Findlay International Night is 50 and fabulous. On Friday, March 29, Findlay students, faculty and community members gathered at the Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex to take a trip around the globe.
“For one night, they get to have that globe here on campus,” said Jenn Butler, program coordinator for the Buford Center for Diversity and Service. “They’ll get a good glimpse into the country’s culture, their food, learning about their food and tasting their food.”
Joining the Buford Center in the fall of 2017, and being on maternity leave last year during the event, this is Butler’s first time organizing International Night.
“It’s really been great to look back at the history,” explained Butler. “For it being my first year, I really get a good glimpse of how it started and how we’ve gotten to where we are today.”
The tradition behind the annual event began with Rae Wallen, a UF world religions professor who would welcome international students into his home. 50 years later, a crowd of more than 1500 people attends the special night each year.
“This is the largest event on campus second to commencement,” said Butler. “The community, I think, is really eager to come to campus and this is one way they can get on campus and they can really learn about our international students.”
Sophomore Brette Klopp was among those exploring different cultures on Friday.
“It’s one of my favorite events of the year that the University puts on because I like trying new things with new cultures,” said Klopp. “And the food is always really good, so that’s a plus!”
She thinks it’s a great way for the international students to express themselves while educating the UF community.
“We have a lot of international students here and it’s always neat to listen about their cultures,” said Klopp. “It gives us a bigger look into their lives.”
With 20 different booths, Butler says there were a lot of different cultures for people to experience.
“Usually every booth has some kind of interactive activity where they’re going to experience something special to that country,” said Butler. “Whether it be a game that they play, maybe their name written in their language, maybe it’s henna.”
In addition to the different booths, there were even more features to celebrate the anniversary.
“Everything from 50th anniversary cakes, to balloons, to the special recognition of the Wallen family and just some extra special performances as well,” said Butler.
With this being the first year the UF Student Government Association (SGA) has sponsored the event, students could also get a free tee shirt with their UF IDs. Community members could purchase one for $5.
Though the international students may have impacted those they educated during the evening, Butler says having the chance to work with them has impacted her.
“Some students that I didn’t really know, I’ve gotten to know, or ones that I did know, I got to know even better,” said Butler. “I really feel like my life is better because I have these students.”