On Saturday, April 13, 2019, the Intercultural Festival (ICF) took place on Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Monroe Park Campus.
The Intercultural Festival is a student-led annual tradition at VCU that dates back more than 20 years and was deemed an official university event in 2003. Each year, ICF attracts thousands of people from countless different backgrounds and unique ways of life, and promotes greater understanding across ethnic and racial lines. All are welcomed to the festival to take part in celebrating cultures through food, dance, vendors and performances by students and local talent. This year’s theme, Love, World, encouraged attendees to explore the idea of global citizenry.
“This year, we’re focusing on what it means to be a global citizen,” Sabrina Rusli, marketing chair for ICF, said. “I think it’s important for us to start conversations with people who might not look like us and it can be difficult when we’ve never been exposed to their culture before. That’s why ICF provides experiences for students to broaden their scope.”
The Love, World theme was explored in depth this year by extending Intercultural Festival from a single day to full ICF Week, which included a luncheon, keynote speech and cultural competency training. The keynote speaker, Kobi Skolnick, founder of Lead for Impact, a transformative leadership development company, also led the training, which allowed attendees to work through different lens of the meaning behind the idea of a “global citizen.”
“The reason that I would recommend that people should come to the ICF is because it’s another way to learn about different cultures. VCU’s already a diverse community but sometimes we don’t really engage in those other cultures and ways of life,” Alex DeMons, sophomore HPEX major, said. “It’s a great way to witness and observe and try and get involved. […] Free food is always a bonus.”
VCU is a diverse campus with members the world over, and each year the ICF provides is an opportunity to take time to appreciate and learn more about the many different cultures that make up our Ramily. It is also a wonderful way to introduce new or prospective members to the community they are joining.
“The first time I ever went to the Intercultural Festival was on my preview day. It was my very first impression of VCU, and I think it really sealed the deal for me in wanting to come here,” Raven Witherspoon, sophomore Physics major, said. “A lot of schools talk a big game on diversity and inclusion, but very few actually care about their students in the way that VCU does.”
Attendees at the ICF Week events had the opportunity to fill out Love, World postcards with messages about what being a global citizen in a diverse community such as VCU means to them.
For more information regarding Intercultural Festival, visit https://icf.vcu.edu/.