The Eau Claire community and UW-Eau Claire campus are celebrating the diversity of cultures represented during the 2021 CultureFest.
Formerly known as the International Folk Fair, the 55th anniversary of this event is being held April 17-23.
Huslen Batdelger, a fourth-year finance student and intern with the Center for International Education, said the name was changed under the direction of Yiliu Yang.
Yang, the coordinator of CultureFest, updated the name to be more inclusive of a broader range of cultures, Batdelger said.
According to the CIE website, there are a variety of virtual aspects for this year’s Culturefest, in addition to several on-campus highlights.
There are live Zoom events and pre-recorded videos throughout the week that give insight into the cultures of the participating organizations. Some of the videos feature international students that are currently living in their home country.
The volunteers and interns that helped in the planning process for this event said coming to CultureFest helps strengthen the Eau Claire community.
“This is a chance to make connections and be a part of the community,” Lan Yang, third-year finance student and CultureFest volunteer, said.
Batdelger said CultureFest is a way to get to know international students better.
Yang — in agreement with Batdegler — said that as an international student, she has been able to meet lots of people from around the world.
Nuo Xu, a third- year computer science student and volunteer, said that this week’s events help people of different cultures to come together over their shared interests and appreciate their diversity.
Sally Thompson, a third-year marketing student and intern with the CIE, said CultureFest is a great way to start learning about other cultures.
She said it is important to be open-minded when educating ourselves on the diversity found globally and also in the local community.
“Not everyone has the privilege of being educated properly,” Thompson said. “ I think CultureFest is a great way to give people that opportunity.”
Xu also said because most students are likely to study abroad during their academic career, or do some sort of international travel, they should have an understanding of cultures — aside from their own — to be respectful to other people’s ways of living.
The student interns said participants are welcome to join the live Zoom sessions and should come prepared with their questions. Aside from it being a strong learning opportunity, they said the sessions are expected to be fun and engaging.
In addition to the educational multicultural facets of CultureFest, Yang said there is also a delicious menu that will be served in the Davies Student Center, Monday through Friday.
Students who buy food for CultureFest, are given free snack packs that have international goodies.
On the first floor of McIntyre Library, there are international books on display all week long that students can browse through.
Students should also keep their eyes peeled for international films that are to appear on screens throughout campus.
To see what movies are available to watch, students can utilize mytv10, the UW-Eau Claire streaming service available to students for free.
The students said it was important to carry on with this event amid COVID-19, so community members could feel supported and harbor greater relationships with one another.
While CultureFest had to be adjusted to adhere to current restrictions and safety precautions, the students said they were grateful to be a part of the planning process because they know it can have a meaningful impact on the community.
They want to encourage Blugolds to come to the live sessions, enjoy some snacks and have fun.
The complete schedule for CultureFest, the participating organizations and links to the virtual events can be found on their website.
Gómez can be reached at [email protected]