Saturday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m., members of the Graceland University Lamoni campus primarily from the Black Student Union, International Club, Latino Club and Polynesian Club, as well as members of the faculty and alumni community gathered for the annual tradition of International Night.
The evening featured various acts and performances to represent the many cultures present on campus. The 16 acts included dance, poems, songs, prayers and other musical performances meant to encourage the audience to "cross [their] cultural bridge to another's world," as explained by Diana Jones, Director of the Graceland Intercultural Office. The Shaw Family Auditorium was filled with members of the Graceland and surrounding community there to take part in this worthwhile event.
The evening began with the Parade of Countries, in which students march into the auditorium carrying a flag representing their heritage – there were 30 flags to represent the respective nationalities. Graceland senior and President of International Club, Amina Amirkhanli, who is from Azerbaijan, said it was, "very fun to work and rehearse the show with people from very different backgrounds."
Throughout the preparation process, the participants were able to experience, as the eventual audience did, the presentations put on by their peers as well as interact and learn more about the different backgrounds of the students they go to classes and attend events with. The annual event is held to initiate and encourage these interactions and create an opportunity to learn from one another.
Jones expressed, "It is my dream that we can be cultural advocates and ambassadors for one another by stepping beyond our comfort zones and judgments to learn and be changed by others. Intercultural Night is a glimpse of the world and connections we have an opportunity to engage with here in Lamoni and at Graceland University."
At the end of this year’s ceremony, a video was played of "Celebration," performed by children from all around the world together. Audience members joined in and were able to participate in the ending of this two-hour event. Graceland continues to encourage these types of appreciation for our diverse student body year round and invites community members to attend a Cultural Celebration coming up April 14, where there will be "cultural displays, food samples, talent, and more."