Smells of spicy food filled the air as attendees took a virtual trip around the world, visiting informational booths about countries including Canada, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa, and many more.
Music played in the background, and performers participated in traditional dances, while volunteers answered questions about the countries, and displayed artifacts. Restaurants specializing in international cuisine were also on hand, offering a taste of these countries.
Maria Ahmad, coordinator of student life and campus diversity, was pleased by the large turnout and the opportunity to reach out to the community. Planners printed approximately 300 passports, and were pleasantly surprised to run out within the first hour.
“I think people are surprised when they come to IU Kokomo and see all the diversity,” Ahmad said. “Food and dance are great ways to show off your culture.”
Mohammad Almalag, assistant professor of informatics, was among the volunteers, sharing information about his native Saudi Arabia. He said it was a perfect evening to have fun and to learn about other countries.
“Learning from someone who has been there is very different than learning from the media,” he said. “I am happy people took this opportunity to visit our campus and find out more.”
Student Stephen Nichols shared his experience with Germany. Having lived there for eight years, German was his first language before coming to the United States. Nichols said after seeing Germany’s very organized culture and America’s “laid back” culture, he appreciates both.
“Diversity means everybody,” he said. “There’s a time for disagreement, but there’s too much polarization in the world.”
Keynote speaker Vicki Bonds, who is associate director of the IUPUI Center for Research and Teaching, shared her idea of diversity as well.
“Diversity is a hot topic,” she said. “The next level is inclusion.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.