UIS presents the 40th annual International Festival


Photograph courtesy of Savarnik Reddy Mareddy

Dancers perform at the festival

Hundreds of campus and community members gathered on Nov. 5 for the 40th annual International Festival, which provided artistic performances, food tasting, and cultural exhibits from more than 30 countries. 

Erika Suzuki, Program Coordinator of International Student Service, said he was pleased by the turnout and excited that so many people came to “find something new, and learn something they didn’t know before.” 

More than 600 international students from more than 40 countries are enrolled at UIS this year alone. The festival is meant to highlight the university’s diversity and introduce Springfield residents to different cultures.

“It is not only my goal, but also my dream of letting people discover the new world, learning something from other cultures,” said Suzuki. “And this is a good opportunity for us to get out of our comfort zone and meet new people.” 

Judy Zhu, the President of Asian Student Organization, called the festival a great chance to access different cultures through art and food. 

“I love the food here as well,” she said, “Especially for students, we don’t have a lot of chances to eat it in the restaurant. I think it is a very good chance for us to sample all the food.” 

The International Festival is the longest running student-led program in the university’s history. 

UIS International Festival began in 1977 by Gerlinde Coates, who was the first Director of International Student Service. While Coates was helping international students with their English in 1977, she came up with a cultural potluck, an event that was attended only by small number of guests. Years later, it developed to a major campus and community celebration. 

Patrick Anderson, Academic Skills Specialist of the Learning Hub, indicated that he enjoyed the event as both a viewer and an eater.

“I enjoyed the event tremendously,” he said, “It becomes bigger and bigger every year I come. I think this is a big success for UIS as a whole.”