Anyone who walked into the room would have thought that everyone inside had known each other for years. But in reality, it was the first time that most of them had met. On a balmy night in July, more than 250 people came together to celebrate international education and diversity through food, games, and dance.
This is the second year the International Office hosted International Night, and it has quickly turned into one of its most popular events. The purpose of the event is to showcase the numerous customized programs that the International Office coordinates throughout the summer and to give program participants the opportunity not just to meet Americans during their program, but connect with people from all over the world.
This year’s attendees represented more than 25 countries across four different continents and were part of eight different international programs coordinated by the International Office, including Universität der Bundeswehr München, COMEXUS Teacher Training Program, Fulbright Visiting Scholars from Iraq Program, Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Institute, Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program, US Sport & Cultural Immersion Program, Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program, and Teacher Training Institute for la Secretaría de Educacíon Publica (SEP).
The cultural diversity in the room was striking. Many of the attendees wore traditional clothing, representing their countries and cultures. The German cohort, for example, wore their national soccer team’s jersey. Everyone came together to learn about each other’s traditions and their experience at UT Austin.
The event included dinner and games that gave the visiting students and professionals a chance to meet people from outside of their programs. Zeinebou Niang, a visitor from Mauritius enjoyed that part of the night. "It made me move [so I was able] to meet new people and [learn] their interests and I had fun,” he described.
The most exciting and entertaining part of the evening was when participants took to the stage to perform. Students from Shanghai performed Chinese hip-hop songs and Tai Chi. Mohamed Doumbi, better known as Baba Whizzo, performed one of his original songs, "24 Hours." Sunday David Ubur, a Mandela Washington Fellow from Nigeria, taught the audience some phrases in sign language. The impromptu talent show was a chance for the international visitors to showcase their culture and unique talents.
The event concluded with a dance party that brought everyone together. It started with a group of visiting teachers from Mexico in a line dance, and moved from the front stage to the dance floor at the back of the room.
Attendees agreed that International Night was among their favorite activities during their programs, which exemplify the International Office’s efforts to help students and professionals on campus and beyond to become effective global leaders. International Night allowed them to not only share each other's cultures, languages, and histories, but to forge personal connections and become part of an international community of Longhorns dedicated to changing the world.