For Javier Molinares
Al Dia Today
MELBOURNE — More than 2,000 people will attend the 2013 Florida Tech International Festival on February 23. The multicultural event is a combination of cultural displays, music, children entertainment and good ethnic food.
The idea of an international festival started in 2007 with the vision of Judy Brooke, FIT International Affairs director.
“I have to confess we didn’t have one signature event on campus that was for international students and was open to the community,” said Brooke. “I felt that was important to open up an event because we have such an incredible diverse and extensive international student population.”
Brooks found the perfect setting for the festival looking from her window at her older office in the Cooper Building, when the out door amphitheater was at the early stages of development.
“We had the pretty slopping lands coming down to the amphitheater and the Botanical Garden behind it and the Panther Plaza,” she remembers. “I saw it and I thought, ‘Wow, that would be a great spot for a festival’, so we planned the first.”
From the beginning, Judy Brooke planned Florida Tech International Festival based on five components. The first component is the diverse cultural display, which is the most important educational component. Different student groups and organizations within the University and the community educate the public with colorful information about their country of origin.
Sahel Salaam, a communication graduate student from Saudi Arabia, participated last year in the Florida Tech International Festival as a member of the Saudi Union.
“We were helping people and explaining about Saudi Arabia’s culture and food. All the people enjoyed all the stuff that we had on the table,” said Salaam. “Ladies here on campus came to our table and they were taking pictures with the hijab and the men were taking pictures with the thobe. This is the uniform from Saudi Arabia.”
The entertainment is also a big part of the festival. Artists from different countries both students and members of the community perform dances and songs from their places of origin.
“That’s everything from dance to soul, local martial arts display and the Brazilian group doing their thing,” Brooke said. “That has been very successful.”
And always the food has to be present. Typically, the International Festival involves 6 to 8 local food vendors.
“We try to find local cultural and ethnic food, everything from Caribbean to Indian to Middle Eastern,” said Brooks.
Carlos Ramirez, one of the owners of the Colombian Restaurant La Estancia de Luisa, has participated in the International Festival for 5 years.
“That’s an amazing opportunity that we have been taken. It is the most international festival I have participated in,” said Ramirez.
Last year, Judy Brooks started putting together the fourth component, which includes children activities.
“This is an important part for families and it is growing bigger and bigger,” Brooks said. “Last year, we had a little petting zoo, bounce houses, face painting and carnival games.”
The last component of the festival is mostly internal. It is all about the students and staff that contribute to the multicultural event.
“ They do multicultural activities among them, and during the festival, I make sure all internal participants have food and everything they need,” Brooks concluded.
Florida Tech International Festival will take place on campus on February 23, 2013 from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call ISSS at (321) 674-8053 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.