Faculty event features international holiday traditions

GVL / Archive

Former students Jessica Hines (left) and Alica Arnold (right)

GVL / Archive Former students Jessica Hines (left) and Alica Arnold (right)

Shelby Pendowski

Grand Valley State University employs hundreds of professors from all around the world. To bridge the gap between international and domestic professors, the GVSU International Faculty and Friends committee through the Padnos International Center is hosting a Holidays Around the World event on Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Room 308 in the Padnos Hall of Science.

“As an organization, we plan events to aid in the integration of international faculty and staff,” said IFF co-chair Karel Swanson. “For this event, the international faculty that are participating are sharing just a small little narrative of how, and in what ways, holidays are celebrated in their home country.”

Swanson took the lead on planning this event. The committee has debated having an event that allowed for multiple international professors to showcase their home countries2 for several years.

“We have talked about it for a couple of years, but this is actually the first year that we have done this format,” Swanson said. “In years past, we have had other international faculty do something just for their country.”

In previous years, one international professor would highlight the cuisine and traditions of their country, whereas this year faculty and staff in attendance will be able to experience the food, drinks and traditions from the countries of multiple international professors.

“This isn’t just for international faculty,” Swanson said. “All faculty and staff are welcome to attend them so it aids our awareness of learning more about them as well. Also, people from the United States who have always lived here can attend as well so that we can learn more about them and about their culture and about their traditions.”

The majority of the events held by the IFF are open to all faculty, staff and students, but this particular one is specifically for faculty and staff.

The event will not only highlight customs, traditions and cultures from around the world, but also various religious practices.

“It is certainly open to other religious faiths (than Christianity) if they chose to. No one is excluded,” Swanson said.

Altogether, about 10 different countries will be represented at the event.

“We encourage anyone, any international faculty or staff who celebrates a certain holiday or still observes a traditional activity or something that is involved with holidays to participate,” Swanson said.

Swanson and the IFF committee hope to spread awareness of all the different cultures, ethnicities, races and religions present at GVSU through this event. Holidays Around the World is also about spreading the spirit of the holiday season by bringing people together.

“A lot of times, it is not that we don’t care about people from other cultures or ethnicities or even faiths. It is that we truly don’t know and we are unaware,” Swanson said. “We want everyone who is here to feel included. We want it to be inclusive.

“We want it to just basically open up those lines of awareness and communication so that we can all just be more aware of each other and accepting and welcoming.”

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