Eva Cheng, 23News Staff Writer

The International Welcome Party took place on Sept. 12 at the Mizzou Rec Center, sponsored by Mizzou After Dark, MU Student Life, the Missouri International Student Council and the MSA/GPC International Programming Committee. The event was free and open to the public, and allowed people to experience the diverse cultures on the MU campus through traditional food, fun games and ethnic music.

Tables and booths were set up by different campus organizations, each offering a great variety of food options to represent their own countries and to contribute to the showcase of MU’s commitment to diversity.MU student Banyana Ntseme was satisfied with the authenticity of the dishes at the event.

“I am from Botswana, and the food that we cook is pretty similar to what the Nigerians have there,” she said. Other than the hometown feel that the party gave her, she loved the cultural diversity promoted here because “in that diversity, we are unified.”

While food remained a highlight, organizers hoped students would take away much more from the event.

Aaron Gonzalez, the vice president of MU’s Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. said, “That’s what college is all about, coming and meeting new people, having new experiences. So if you just came to college and it was just the same people over and over again, that’s boring.”

When asked if he thought it was important for MU to have a wide variety of international students, he stated, “Bringing international students, as well as having this event…it’s kind of what college is about, new experiences and all that.”

As attendees were having a great time enjoying food and networking with other people, Bandhana Katoch, the former president of Cultural Association of India, spoke with 23News about the purpose of holding this party.

“I think mostly creating awareness and accepting each other’s culture because it’s way more than food, too,” she said. “My only hope is that people, when they get into the line, instead of just waiting for food they can talk more with the volunteers and know more about that culture.”

She also expressed her support for cultural diversity at MU, stating “The world is so globalized now, I don’t think the young minds who are going through college now can avoid being in a global community. And I think it’s great to get them started right here when they are in their late teens.”

The International Welcome Party was not only a place for international students and organizations to embrace their home cultures, but also a welcoming opportunity for everyone to discover more about the world around them.