The drum makes a beat and another one joins as the dancer comes in with her traditional handmade outfit and proudly dances to her country’s song.
For the 19th time, TJC is hosting International Day, an educational and cultural event where people from distinctive cultural backgrounds have the opportunity to teach others about their country.
“International Day is going to give me the opportunity to show some really fascinating details about my country,” Rosemary Hays, a Guatemalan exhibitor for International Day, said. “I’d like to show people a Guatemalan experience and what it is about.”
International Day at TJC was founded by Dr. Manoucher Khosrowshahi, also known as “Dr. K,” a government instructor at TJC and 2008 Texas professor of the year.
“When I came here about 20 years ago, I noticed that something was missing [at TJC],” Dr. K. said. “So I took the initiatives with my own personal funding and creativity to start International Day.”
The number of visitors has grown a lot at International Day. It has been possible with Dr. K’s help and his students, who have volunteered throughout the years to set up exhibits and perform.
“At the beginning, we had hardly 100 visitors, now we get almost 3,000 people every year who come to our event,” Dr. K. said. “I encourage students and visitors to dress up, because this is the event where they can show off their culture.”
About 40 to 50 countries have exhibits, such as Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Costa Rica, Philippines, Japan, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain and China.
TJC students are not the only ones attending and participating at International Day. According to Dr. K., people from Athens, Longview, Austin, Dallas, Houston and community people from Tyler have been present.
“This event is a college event, but it is open to the community,” Dr. K. said. “Anybody in the community who has an interest in cultural and international festivities, all they need to do is just call me and I will facilitate their participation.”
Nationally well-known people have been present at International Day also.
“He [Dr. K.] had [ex president] Clinton come in one year,” Lupe Vargas, a previous volunteer for International Day and a Nursing major, said. “I went to International Day, and I fell in love with it. It was just a great place to meet people and not just people from TJC.”
Exhibits are not the only things visitors get to see and experience when they come to International Day. There are fashion shows, different country food samples and music, free food, drinks and ice cream, games, free books, contests, prizes and dances.
“I mean, the music throughout the day is awesome,” Vargas said. “The first time I went there, I learned so much about different areas. It was just a culture shock, because you just learn everything possible in just like 20 minutes of walking around. When you leave there, you leave with a whole bunch of knowledge.”
The International Day event is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28 and takes place in the Apache Rooms of the Rogers Student Center. The event is free and includes admission, activities, food and a learning experience.
Anyone who has questions about International Day or who is interested in participating may contact Dr. K. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://socialscience.tjc.edu/mkho/iday/new_design/ for more information.
“International Day is very interesting and I will urge you, or whoever, to come this year and witness it,” said Mary Mendy, a Gambian Dancer for International Day and a Liberal Arts-Economics sophomore at TJC. “It is awesome. So many countries, so much stuff to see – to learn.”