On the afternoon of Saturday, November 16, 2019, various international students of different nationalities, filled Jingwen Square with passionate music, delicious cuisines and exquisite crafts from their own countries to celebrate this very event — 8th Nanjing Normal University International Culture Day.
“Face the world, embrace the future” was the theme of the 2019 NNU International Culture Day, which is hosted by the International Exchange Office in November every year to give international students a chance to introduce their national cultures, and assist in breaking down the culture barriers among students.
The festivities commenced with a greeting by five hosts announcing the opening of the festival, all of them coming from different nations: China, Russia, Malaysia, Ukraine and Korea. Then there were live shows performed on the central stage. The showcase of performances included Chinese Kung Fu, Turkmenistan’s national dance the Kushdepdi, Mongolian songs and several cultural shows representing other countries.
The International Bazaar was the highlight of this festival. A total of 40 red tents representing 40 countries were put up in the square. International students decorated their tents with distinctive elements of their own countries including maps, pictures, local food and folk costumes. They also introduced their local culture and taught interesting games to those visiting the booths. Thousands of students and teachers nearby were attracted to this wonderful event.
International students who participated in the International Cultural Day activity were all very hospitable and passionate. Standing beside the display booth of Belarus was Maryia, a graduate student at NNU, majoring in Tourism Management. She grinned at every visitor who stopped by to listen to her detailed introduction to her country and its culture. “These are the pictures of the cities in my country. Those are the foods! Chocolates, sweets and pancakes, they are all the best!” She seemed to have enjoyed the event very much. “I think this activity helps me to engage more with other cultures and meet more friends,” she said.
At the display booth of Tajikistan, an international student, Yang Guang, invited people to taste traditional Tajik food, especially dry food like nuts and dehydrated fruits. At the same time, he felt it was quite a pity for not being able to bring his favorite Tajik food. “If it were possible, I would have loved to bring my national food ‘Osh’ here, which is definitely loved by every Tajik citizen.” Besides the food, he also introduced his country’s traditional handmade carpets, the different meaning of the three colors of the Tajik national flag, and the coins of Tajikistan, which had been placed in an attractive pattern on the table.
When asked what he thought of this activity, Kenji Yamada, from New York City, said the atmosphere of this event was much like that of his hometown, where people come from different countries and speak different languages, but can integrate well with each other. “America is a relatively young country, and the people who live there come from different cultures and share different values. So it is unfair to show only one or two aspects of American culture,” he explained. That was probably why at the display booth of America, there existed a variety of things that showed different dimensions of American culture: maps, cowboy pictures, fast foods, pop music and so on.
For Toure Amadou Ibrahim from Mali, this is his first year in China, but he has already started to love this place and is eager to introduce more about his own motherland to the Chinese people. At Mali’s display booth, a steaming pot full of rice was surrounded by all kinds of traditional foods of Mali, including fish, banana and juice. “These are all cooked in the traditional African way!” He told us with great excitement. Some traditional Malian clothes with different colors and patterns were also on exhibition, waiting for people to touch them or try them on.
Lots of students who passed by were attracted not only by the hustle and bustle, but also by the hundreds of foreign students with whom they could communicate with about different cultures to gain a better understanding. Yihan Cao, a student from the School of Foreign languages and Cultures, said, “This whole activity is wonderful! I took part in some interesting activities and have gotten to know and taste many delicious foreign foods! More importantly, it gives me a great opportunity to get to know some foreign friends, talk with them and exchange our ideas.”