Lively music filled the gymnasium while bamboo poles slid across the stage as dancers from Maharlika Dance Group perform traditional Filipino dances, all parts of International Night at the University of Regina.
Last Friday, hundreds of people wore colourful traditional costumes as International Night made a comeback after the pandemic. After few years of silence, this annual celebration of cultural diversity brought people together to enjoy international cuisine, diverse traditional performances, cultural fashion showcase competition and Student Idol competition.
Samantha Herreria and Gerone Dimalanta, two of the Maharlika Dance Group’s coordinators, could not be happier to perform with their group at this year’s International Night.
“It was amazing. Breath-taking literally and figuratively,” Dimalanta said with a smile on his face.
Dimalanta was happy to see all the multicultural representation. He said Canada is a multicultural country and that is how it should be celebrated.
“Honestly, we should have more of these. Spread the culture!” Herreria said.
Charline Ihimbazwe, a second-year psychology and business student, had been enjoying the spirit and all performances throughout the evening.
Ihimbazwe was there to take part in U of R Student Idol competition, amazing the audience with her singing skills. Being able to perform in an event like this was important for her, as music has always been a big part of her identity, but it has not always been supported by her parents.
“Now that I have moved away from home, I have been able to explore it and I am enjoying every minute of it,” Ihimbazwe said.
For Sajeena Nur, a first-year business student and University of Regina Bangladeshi Students’ Club Vice President, International Night is all about the cultural community.
“We want to show how we are united and can stay strong together,” said Nur. “Teamwork is the dream work.”
Nur feels that people are often afraid of meeting strangers. International Night allows people from different countries and diverse cultural backgrounds celebrate their similarities and differences.
“I really appreciate how they are showcasing all these cultures. International Night is a platform where we can all get together and perform,” said Nur.
Expressing themselves through traditional clothing was also important for a performing group of international students from India. In their opinion, performing at the International Night was a great experience. The group agreed that the audience seemed to enjoy and appreciate their performance.
“It was nerve-racking at the beginning, but when we started to perform, the energy was amazing,” said second-year computer science student Krisha Patel.
Unlike the other three in the Indian dance group, fourth-year kinesiology student Zeel Sangani had performed in International Night before the pandemic. In her opinion, having events like International Night gives international students the opportunity to show appreciation to their culture.
“We can show what our cultural dances and songs mean to us, while wearing our cultural costumes,” said Patel.