The global community visits TJC each year to celebrate and educate students about people, culture, food and religions around the world.
Government professor Dr.. Manoucher Khosrowshahi started International Day 20 years ago to educate students about foreign cultures.
“It’s important for our students to have exposure to the international community and culture,” said Khosrowshahi. “Our students need exposure to learn about other cultures, people and religions. Sept. 11 proved that.”
The event has food, entertainment, and booths set up for each of the different countries.
“People may not know we have a large international community in Tyler,” said Literacy Council of Tyler bookkeeper Nancy Hill. “This event builds interpersonal relationships between foreign cultures and shows us we’re not that different.”
Exhibitors this year include Australia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey and Yugoslavia.
“A lot of work goes into these displays,” said student Alison Hill, who worked at International Day last year. “My table was Libya but included Middle Eastern and North African culture. I wore a traditional Libyan dress and explained what all of the items in the display were used for.”
Entertainment will include Chinese and Gambian dancing, Irish step-dancers, ballet, African drumming, classical music, and violin fiddling.
Another exhibitor this year is the Literacy Council of Tyler. They are also celebrating their 20-year anniversary and have a unique bond to International Day.
“We teach English as a second language to international students in the community,” said Nancy Hill. “Over the past 20 years, we have taught students from 40-50 different countries.”
The Literacy Council of Tyler offers free classes to international students and the public at TJC’s West Campus. They are also always looking for volunteers and tutors.
Every year the event continues to grow.
“This year we expect about 3,000 people to attend,” said Khosrowshahi. “Most of our attendees are students from school districts in the area like Tyler and Longview.”
International Day has become a big success and has garnered statewide and international recognition.
“Every year at least one member of the Governor’s staff comes here to recognize the event,” said English professor Alan Barnes. “I’m proud to be a colleague of Dr. K. because of the honor he brings to TJC.”
According to Khosrowshahi, it has been a vision realized.
“When I came here 20 years ago, I envisioned such an event on campus and after 20 years it has a root,” said Khosrowshahi. “Just about every day people contact me saying ‘Dr.. K, when is International Day?’ They look forward to it.”
International Day will be on Tuesday April 20 from 9 am to 5 p.m. in the Apache Rooms in Rogers Student Center. For more information on International Day, go to http://social science.tjc.edu/mkho. For more information on the Tyler Literacy Council, call 903-533-0330.