Texas Tech University

CultureFest Kicks Off International Week 2020 at Texas Tech

Amanda Castro-Crist

October 23, 2020

The event is one of several planned for the week, which encourages global education and literacy.

In August, Texas Tech University welcomed students back to campus with a commitment to keeping the campus community safe and healthy while also giving them chances to enjoy the vibrant campus life experience for which Raiderland is known. While campus life has certainly looked a bit different this semester, with virtual events replacing many of the in-person events of years past, those at the university continue to look for ways to host safe, socially distanced, in-person events that allow students to learn more about Texas Tech and their fellow Red Raiders.

This Sunday (Oct. 25), there will be another opportunity for engagement on campus as the Office of International Affairs (OIA) kicks off International Week 2020 with CultureFest, a free, public multisite, outdoor event held from 2-5 p.m.

"CultureFest, a celebration that focuses on our international students' groups who present different aspects of their culture to the community cannot be all in one location," said Beth Mora, international student life administrator. "Instead, we will have simultaneous events including crafts, dance, music and other activities in three different outdoor areas of campus: the International Culture Center (ICC), the Student Union Building (SUB) West Plaza and the gazebo at Urbanovsky Park."

CultureFest is just one of the signature events of International Week that will be held in person this year. The annual OIA Open House will be held from 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 28) in a drive-thru format in the north visitor parking lot of the ICC.

"We will continue the tradition of the annual Open House for faculty and staff," said Joan Goodman-Williamson, executive director for international relations. "We can't have food, but we have put together incredible gift bags and information from the OIA and gift cards and discounts from restaurants, and we will be out in our parking lot to say hello to our colleagues and present them with the bags – but in the safety of their own vehicles."

The OIA also will celebrate Día de los Muertos this year with an online gallery featuring work from local artists and photography from Hutchinson Middle School students. Originally planned as a celebration from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday (Oct. 30) on the front patio of the ICC, the event was converted to a virtual event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Sukant Misra, vice provost for international affairs, said the weeklong celebration, held the week before International Education Week, highlights the importance of global literacy.

"International Education Week has a 20-year history and is celebrated in more than 100 countries across the globe – so we are in good company," Misra said. "This year, particularly, the entire world has witnessed a sea change. We're all involved, but often, that involvement has been from behind a computer screen or television.

"We found a way to encourage inquiry, communication and understanding more about world cultures and languages through direct, but safe, participation. Nothing can replace personal experience, especially when it involves learning something that is different from what you know. Coming to events such as CultureFest or Día de los Muertos creates personal memories and intellectual foundations that help guide us in our daily contact with diverse people and cultures from around the world whether that contact is on our campus, in classrooms or neighborhoods."

Goodman-Williamson said health and safety measures are in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all who are involved or attend the events.

"The safety of our community is paramount," Goodman-Williamson said. "Although our activities will take place outside, we ask that all visitors to our events wear masks and socially distance. We will have signage and are providing sanitizing materials, including hand soap and wipes; gloves as needed for crafts; and masks if visitors have forgotten to bring their own. We know we will see tremendous cooperation from our students, our staff and our community so that International Week will be the terrific success that it can be."

For more information, including a full list of virtual and in-person events, visit the International Week 2020 website.