International Parade 2019

International Festival Parade: Chancellor John M. Dunn, (center, holding the United States flag) and other university officials joined several SIU international students in celebrating the 2019 International Festival. This year’s event is Feb. 10-14. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

February 05, 2020

Join SIU in celebrating a “Taste of Cultures” at International Festival 2020

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — International Festival 2020 is a celebration of the diversity, inclusiveness and global reach of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The 58th annual festival, “Taste of Cultures” starts Monday and runs through Feb. 14.

The weeklong series of events typically draws large crowds from campus and the surrounding community.

“We hope this festival is not only a celebration of our international students, but an opportunity for the campus and the region to get a glimpse into our various cultures and traditions,” said Deekshitha Masani, president of the International Student Council, which leads festival planning.

International students are vital part of SIU fabric

The university has welcomed international students since 1947 and currently more than 1,000 international students, scholars and their families from about 100 nations call SIU home. The international Salukis are valued and their impact is felt in many ways, officials said.

“International students form a vital component of the SIU and Carbondale experience by providing diverse perspectives and unique opportunities for cross-cultural learning,” Andrew Carver, executive director of international affairs, said. “SIU’s international students and families shop in local retail stores, eat in local restaurants, purchase cars and services and attend local schools, generating more than $46 million in economic activity each year.”

The International Festival is a time to celebrate and connect with these students.

A sea of flags launches the fest

The celebration begins with the poignant International Parade of Flags at 10 a.m. on Monday. It’s a very colorful and impressive assemblage as students, faculty, staff and community members, some wearing attire from their native countries, walk across campus from Woody Hall to the Student Center carrying flags representing the many countries on campus.

The official proclamation and university welcome ceremony follows at 10:30 a.m. in the Student Center’s International Lounge. The International Student Council will lead the event, which serves as the official opening for the International Festival. Chancellor John M. Dunn will issue the official proclamation with Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Meera Komarraju and Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry participating as well.

Popular food fair returns Feb. 12

The International Food Fair offers a unique opportunity to try diverse culinary fare beginning at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in the Student Center Ballrooms. One of the most popular events of the festival, it features cuisine from all over the world. SIU students prepare and serve popular dishes from their own countries and visitors often get the chance to try foods they’ve never eaten before. Students from at least nine different countries are participating.

Tickets are on sale now for $1 each.  Most food items take 1-4 tickets, so you can taste many different dishes for a nominal cost. Get tickets in advance at the Student Center Business Office window, located on the second floor, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased at the Food Fair, beginning at 11 a.m.

The menu will be posted at prior to the feast.

Explore study abroad options and apply for a passport

The Study Abroad and Passport Fair is your one-stop spot to find out about the many study abroad opportunities available at SIU and also to apply for a passport, needed for traveling abroad for any reason.

The event is set for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the Student Center International Lounge.

Students, faculty, staff and community members who want to apply for a passport should bring two forms of legal identification; one must be either an original birth certificate featuring the raised seal or a previous passport. An official 2-inch square passport photo is also required so applicants can bring a picture with them or obtain one that day for $15.

U.S. Postal Service representatives will be on hand to take care of the official in-person interview required for applicants. There is a $35 fee for this service; SIU’s Center for International Education will cover the cost for all currently enrolled students who present valid student IDs. People attending the passport fair can complete their passport applications and submit all of the documentation, along with a check for the $110 application fee, during the event.

“This will be our fourth Passport Fair and each year we have seen a growth in the number of students, faculty, staff and community members who have taken advantage of the event,” Ramesh Neupane, associate director of Study Abroad Programs, said. 

The event will also offer information about SIU’s many Study Abroad Programs around the world. Through these programs, students can earn college credit while participating in classes at an international location. The programs range from two weeks to a year in length and many are led by SIU faculty.

Performances from around the globe

Wrapping up the week is the Cultural Show, featuring entertainment from around the world. SIU students will showcase their diverse backgrounds and nations through song and dance at 7 p.m. on Feb. 14 in the Student Center Ballrooms.

Admission is free to all and it’s a family friendly event.

All “Taste of Cultures” International Festival 2020 activities are open to the public. The International Student Council coordinates the festival with support from the Center for International Education, the Student Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate Professional Student Council.

For more information, visit or call 618/453-5714.