international festival

April 01, 2021

SIU will celebrate diversity during International Festival 2021

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale will celebrate the diversity and inclusiveness that is intrinsic to the campus and represented throughout the region during International Festival 2021 next week.

“Celebrating Diversity: Together and Stronger” is the theme for the festival Monday through Friday, April 5-9, featuring a mixture of live and virtual events. All of the events are free and open to the public.

“Though International Festival may look and feel different this year, the virtual events planned and organized by the International Student Council will allow the entire world to join our celebration,” said Andrew D. Carver, executive director of international affairs. “The students could not have chosen a better theme for International Festival 2021. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are all citizens of diverse and interconnected world, and that only by working together will we become stronger and more resilient to the challenges ahead.” 

The flags will fly

The campus will be ablaze with color as the festival kicks off with the annual Parade of Flags at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 5. Students, faculty and staff wearing their native attire and carrying flags from their homelands will assemble outside the Center for International Education at Woody Hall and parade through campus in an impressive display of the spirit of Saluki inclusion and solidarity.

The parade will end at 10:30 a.m. at Faner Plaza, where a proclamation will be signed as Chancellor Austin Lane and Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry formally open the festival. The rain location is the Student Services Building pavilion.

Preparing for future study abroad programs

 “Cancellation of this year’s study abroad courses (due to the pandemic) came as a blow to students and faculty instructors alike,” Carver said. “But I have been amazed by the high level of interest in next year's study abroad programs expressed by students and even parents.  Faculty are already developing plans to accommodate the larger number of students expected to enroll in study abroad courses during the 2021-22 school year.”  

The all-virtual Study Abroad Fair, taking place from 2 to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, will offer information about nearly 20 faculty-led programs and options for exchange programs with more than 200 universities around the world. Students will also learn about how they can earn academic credits, available scholarship opportunities and more. Join via Zoom.

Learn a language

Here is a chance to learn a little bit of a new language, courtesy of a student-led initiative.   Participants can join in a Zoom language hour from 1 to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7, and experience a unique cultural exchange as they learn common phrases of the widely spoken Mandarin language. Register online to join the conversation.  

Join in online activities

A couple of virtual contests are planned, each featuring an interactive component.

The inaugural International Festival Virtual Talent Show is at  6 p.m. on Friday, April 9. The contest is open to all SIU students, who simply sign up online by April 7, then perform their talent live via Zoom or submit a video in advance as they compete for prizes. Everyone is welcome to sign up and watch the show.

Also new is the International Festival Cooking Show. International students will prepare cuisine from their countries and submit videos by Wednesday, April 7, for the special online cooking show. View the entries on the International Student Council Facebook page. Prizes will go to the judges’ favorite as well as to the winner of social media voting.

Snacks and chats

The final in-person event, the International Coffee Hour, will be a bit modified due to the pandemic. Participants can drop by the parking lot adjacent to the Center for International Education at Woody Hall between 3 and 4:30 p.m. on April 9 to meet students and staff from around the world. In lieu of traditional refreshments, visitors can pick up a snack bag and enjoy a bit of international interaction and socially distanced conversation.

Students very involved

The Center for International Education and the Office of Student Engagement are festival sponsors, and the International Student Council planned and organized the events.

“It’s inspiring to see SIU’s international students working creatively to keep International Festival traditions alive and well amid COVID-19,” Carver said.

Find the complete event schedule and additional information online at The Student Center social media pages will also feature video profiles of a few of SIU’s international students.