In an effort to close the cultural gap between international and domestic students and to introduce the student body to cultural diversity on campus, the International Student Assembly is hosting USC’s first Multicultural Carnival Saturday in McCarthy Quad.
With the largest number of international students of any university in the United States, USC has 41 countries represented in its student body.
But, many of those students struggle with adapting to the social and cultural gaps between international and domestic students, according to Eshan Saluja, director of programming and development for ISA.
“I think there is a huge gap between international students and domestic students,” said Saluja, a junior majoring in business administration. “Even though USC has the largest international population, the problem is that there is not that much interaction apart from class or group work. Americans hang out with Americans, Chinese with Chinese and Indian with Indian.”
ISA is hoping the carnival, slated to run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will serve as a jumping-off point for students from different cultures to interact with one another. The carnival will include booths from different international student organizations on campus, featuring culture-specific activities such as a chopstick game with the Chinese Students Association, as well as samples of the country’s cuisine.
“We are trying to encourage the connection between different nationality groups … including domestic students,” said Matthew Leung, executive director of the ISA and a sophomore majoring in business finance.
The Carnival will feature international activities, and also some traditionally American pastimes.
Leung said the ISA is hoping to attract even more visitors to the carnival by broadcasting the USC-Notre Dame game on a high-definition TV.
“We are trying to see if we can incorporate American culture with the different international games so we don’t involve only international students and so we can attract domestic students,” he said. “Also, international students can learn about football, which is an American experience as well as a Trojan experience.”
A number of students planning to participate in the event said they are looking forward to a chance to promote their own culture.
“Apart from wanting to get to know other cultures, we want to tell other people about our culture,” said Silviana Hurniawan, a junior majoring in communication and the public relations officer for the Association of Indonesian Students. “Apart from the disaster, I don’t think anybody has any idea of what Indonesian culture is like.”
Others are hoping the carnival will help integrate international and domestic students on campus.
“There is a disconnect. Even though I feel like people are trying to push us together, there is a still a gap,” said Siyucu Fan, a junior from China who is majoring in design. “[But] I think the carnival will be good. It’s a good way to introduce cultures.”
The turnout and success of the carnival — ISA is hoping to get around 1,000 attendees — will determine whether it will become a tradition, Leung said.
“It’s amazing the opportunity our domestic students have to get to know and experience so many countries represented here at USC,” Becky Peterson, an international student advisor at the Office of International Services, wrote in an email.