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A ‘taste’ of different cultures; Festival of Nations held at BSU

Several people samples food items from international countries at the Festival of Nations, hosted by the BSU International Student Organization. Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer

Maggi Stivers

BEMIDJI — Tom and Bev Hanson stood around a small table covered with bowls each containing a different food representing several countries.

“We are going to try everything eventually,” Tom said.

“This is a sweet and sour type chicken thing, that was delicious,” Bev said.

The couple was attending the Festival of Nations, an annual event hosted Saturday by the BSU International Student Organization. The festival focuses on cultural aspects found within a university.

Each year, the theme of the festival changes, this years was “Same People, Different Places.” Lee Rowe-Elliott, a student leader, described it as, “We are all the same people, just how we have been brought up has given us our personalities and our cultures.”

In the past, the theme has focused on the differences associated with being an international student but the planning committee this year wanted to focus on a positive, note saying that we are all just part of the human race, Rowe-Elliott explained.

The food served changes every year but is always selected by international students.

“We want them to try what we are used to,” Rowe-Elliott said.

The food served represented Korea, Africa, Spain, Nigeria, India, China, Vietnam and Greece including rolls, soups, chicken and much more.

Recipes cards for each food item served were made available for those who wish to make the dishes at home. Bev had made sure to gather the recipes, “I experiment with food all the time,” she said.

Besides the food, the event also featured facepainting, games, prizes and entertainment, including performances by international students including dance groups, drums, and local bands.

In the past, more than 1,000 people have attended the Festival of Nations.

“I’d say if we can get 500 or 600 people in, it would be a success,” Rowe-Elliott said.

Besides large numbers of attendees, the festival also requires a large number of volunteers. Rowe-Elliott estimated around 50 volunteers were helping today.

“We have a lot of friends on campus, coming down and putting their time in,” he said.

Maggi Stivers

Maggi Stivers is a Multi-Media Journalist at the Bemidji Pioneer. She covers art and entertainment in the Bemidji area. She is a 2013 Bemidji State graduate majoring in mass communications with a minor in sociology. Contact her at (218) 333-9790 or

(218) 333-9790