Singing, dancing, poetry, fashion and calligraphy were on the menu for the evening when students from more than a dozen countries showcased their talents during the International Culture Show at Albert Taylor Hall on Friday.
The variety show was the highlight of International Education Week at Emporia State University, which also included presentations, a networking and learning session, a Polynesian dance performance and a tasting. Some tea.
Saman Mehak started the evening with a trio of songs from his native Pakistan. Accompanied by guitarist Zak Putnam, she sang “Baari”, “Aap Jesa Koi” and “Bachana” in Urdu.
Mariama Mohammed sang the Ghanaian national anthem and recited the Pledge of Allegiance before sharing a brief history of her country explaining the colors of the Ghanaian flag.
“Red is for the blood that was shed during the struggle for independence,” she said. “Yellow represents the rich mineral resources, including gold. Green is for the many forests in my country. The black star represents African emancipation from slavery and unification against colonialism.
Yumi Ashino and Mai Nagamine shared some of the story behind traditional Japanese calligraphy or shūji. Because the scene did not allow for a proper demonstration of the art form, they showed a video of Ashino practicing shūji while wearing a yukata, a more casual version of a kimono. During the intermission, Ashino offered his skills to anyone interested in having his name written in Shūji. The queue stretched into the lobby of Plumb Hall as more than 20 people waited their turn for a personalized piece of art.
Originally from Osaka, Ashino started learning Shūji at age eight, as most Japanese children do, she said. But she continued to practice long after her peers lost interest.
“My [calligraphy] teacher was so nice to me, ”she said. “I thought maybe I could reciprocate by [continuing] and share one of our oldest forms of traditional art.
K-Pop performances are always crowd favorite at the International Culture Show and this year was no exception. The Corky Girls – a group of ten women from South Korea and Japan – made audiences cheer with their dance routines choreographed to K-Pop hits.
Two fashion shows featured students from Bangladesh, Mexico, Japan, Pakistan and South Korea modeling traditional clothing from their respective cultures.
Rui Zhao, a Chinese music student, performed the “Dance of Yi Nationality” on the guzheng, a Chinese plucked zither that is not a common instrument for American audiences. She was accompanied by Haoyu Huang on the tanggu, a traditional Chinese drum.
Godwin Izibili came to Emporia from Nigeria, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He is studying Information Technology at ESU with the intention of combining this knowledge with his engineering skills and business training. He showed his musical talents by playing the piano and singing “Eye Adaba”, a song by Nigerian artist ASA.
“The lyrics of the song are about peace and a new dawn,” he explained. “It represents me coming to the United States for new opportunities and bringing the peace of the new day with me.”