7 facts about the 2020 International Festival

IUPUI's annual event returns Feb. 27 to the Campus Center

Flags from all United Nations member and observer states are on display in the Campus Center.View print quality image
Flags from all United Nations member and observer states, plus the Indiana and Indianapolis flags, enliven the Campus Center in the month surrounding International Festival. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Who says you need a passport to experience some global culture?

The IUPUI International Festival returns to the Campus Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27. The Office of International Affairs signaled the festival's imminent return with the installation of the flags this week at the Campus Center.

In its 16th year, the International Festival is one of the premier annual campus events, highlighting a wide array of programming and over 40 exhibitors. Here are seven facts to know about this year's festival.

Global university

IUPUI has students from 147 countries, and the International Festival helps celebrate the university's diversity. India, China and Saudi Arabia are the most widely represented international countries in the IUPUI student body.

"The festival provides a space to build connections among students, staff, faculty and Hoosiers, no matter where they call home," said Marielle Petranoff, logistics and technology coordinator for the Office of International Affairs.

Food on display at the IUPUI International FestivalView print quality image
This year's IUPUI International Festival will include serving six diverse food dishes. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Explore the taste buds

One of the favorite parts of the International Festival for guests is the free food. As Petranoff said, "When you think about what connects us all, everyone eats!"

Helping give the selections more Jaguar flavor, each dish represents a country from which the IUPUI student body has at least one student. This year's six offerings were selected as the "Best of" from the past four years of the festival:

  • Aloo chaat: An Indian crispy potato side dish made with ginger, green chiles and aromatic spices.
  • Chakalaka: A savory stew-like mix of vegetables from South Africa, with beans, tomato, carrots and spicy peppers.
  • Pastel de choclo: A Chilean casserole main course, made with beef and chicken and topped with corn -- or choclo, if you're speaking mapudungun.
  • Vietnamese tapioca: A sweet dessert from Vietnam that pairs tapioca pearls with creamy coconut milk.
  • Scottish shortbread: A traditional dessert from Scotland and the perfect crumbly cookie to pair with a warm drink.
  • Milk tea: Try the beverage that inspired boba tea by drinking this Japanese take on English tea.

The International Festival website has the recipes for each dish.

Flag ... Month?

In the month surrounding the festival, the Campus Center is enlivened with 197 flags from all United Nations member and observer states, as well as those from the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis.

It takes volunteers roughly two hours to hang the flags throughout the Campus Center, following a specific order protocol. The host country goes first and is followed alphabetically by the countries' U.N.-recognized names in English.

"Sometimes countries end up in parts of the alphabet you wouldn't expect," Petranoff said. "Macedonia lives among the N's, but it ensures that we are displaying each nation equally."

If you are looking for a specific flag, stand on the ground floor looking up in the Campus Center. They start on the fourth-floor railing nearest the Bell Tower with the American flag and then proceed alphabetically, left to right, wrapping around each railing until Zimbabwe, the Holy See, Palestine, Indiana and Indianapolis round out the second floor by the main stage.

The flags are on display for 30 days, the maximum amount of time the Campus Center allows.

Dancers participate as part of the programing for IUPUI International Festival; students and the IUPUI community participate in the annual International Festival at the Campus Center; an exhibitor visits with an attendee at the IUPUI International Festival. Photos by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Variety of programming

There will be stage performances, poetry readings, international instruments and seven lectures planned during the festival featuring students and faculty. A discussion at 1 p.m. from the IU Center for Global Health's Dr. Jenny Baenziger is titled "Medical Missions: How to (Maybe) Help People and Not be a Jerk."

"The partnership between Moi University in Kenya and Indiana University is over 30 years old," Petranoff said. "Dr. Baenziger brings a deep understanding of international medical care based on the experience of that partnership. With more and more people going abroad in an attempt to offer aid, it is important to examine the ethics and impact of their actions."

Skip customs, win prizes

Guests to the festival are encouraged to pick up a festival passport at the information table next to the Campus Center Info Desk. The scavenger hunt around the festival has attendees visiting different parts of the event, tasting food, "going abroad" in a photo booth and more. Those who collect all of the passport stamps can claim a prize while supplies last.

The original IUPUI International Festival in 2004View print quality image
The original IUPUI International Festival, in 2004, took place in a single room. Photo courtesy of the IUPUI Office of International Affairs

Bigger than one room

The first IUPUI International Festival took place in 2004 and was held in a single room. Sixteen years later, the festival fills nearly the entire Campus Center.

More than a single day

The festival is the cornerstone event of the Office of International Affairs' International Week, Feb. 23-29.

While they host student-run events featuring a variety of cultures like the International Fashion Show during other parts of the year, International Week features a multitude of events.

For those looking to meet new people, Petranoff recommended the Intercultural Mixer and IPMP International Friendship Social.

"Both will have activities, opportunities to meet new people and, perhaps most importantly, free food," they said.