Seeing the world at UNCW’s Intercultural Festival

Kelsey Prillman | Contributing Writer

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Ever wanted to travel the world but felt like you didn’t have the time or money? People had the chance to fulfill their wanderlust, or at least a part of it, on Saturday morning by attending UNC Wilmington’s annual Intercultural Festival held in Burney Center, where they were able to get a taste of what it’s like to travel the world in only a few hours. 

“It’s like snapshots of the world,” said Wilmington local and Army veteran George Myers of his experience at the festival. “It really reminds you to appreciate the cultural richness of our town.” 

Jan. 30 marked the beginning of the 23rd Intercultural Week at UNCW, and the festival at Burney Center kicked off the week with a celebration of the diversity on campus and in the Wilmington community at large. With exhibits representing various countries, performances of various dance and music styles, and food to be sampled, the festival immersed its attendees in the travel experience. 

The exhibits and performances were kept to the auditorium of Burney, while in the lobby attendees were given a passport book to take to each table and collect flag stickers. These showed not only where they had been at the end of the day, but, in an interesting model of a real passport, were their passes around the model world, with each exhibit asking to see the passport when they arrived.

At the festival it was only a game, primarily meant for the many families and children collecting the stickers, but it also served as a reminder of the reality of how many live, including those on the other side of the exhibits teaching attendees about the countries.

“It’s a reminder coming here. These kids here have to carry paperwork. We don’t know what that feels like,” said Myers, who had seen this firsthand in his time at Fort Hood, Texas.

While the passports could be seen as reminders of home and, as some would say, the ease of travel in America, they were also seen by many at the festival as a spark to encourage future travel.

“All children should see the world,” said Greek representative Anastasia Katris. “And not just the tourist locations, go where the locals go, have fun, be young.” 

Her advice was clearly heard by those present at the festival. When any sample was offered, whether it looked familiar or not, people jumped to try it, and exhibits offering games had lines of people willing and wanting to learn something new. Dance lessons in hip-hop, Irish dance, and Latin dance were all offered in the lobby.

While the diversity of UNCW has often come into question, Intercultural Week is about celebrating the diversity in the community around campus as well. And that, clearly, is a global community.