International Education Week (IEW), which runs Nov. 17-21, will kick off at St. Thomas with the second annual International Fashion Show. In keeping with IEW's goal to celebrate global education and awareness on campuses nationwide, members of the St. Thomas community will model traditional dress or modern fashion from countries all over the world: Togo, Norway, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The fashion show will take place at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 17, in the O'Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. Free IEW T-shirts will be given to the first 100 attendees, and mocktails, appetizers and desserts will be provided following the show.
Sophomore Melody Nguyen is among those who will participate in the International Fashion Show. Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam and raised in Minnesota, will be wearing an ao dai, a traditional Vietnamese outfit. Vietnamese people wear ao dai for formal rituals, such as weddings. Before the 1950s, there were ao dai for both men and women, but this outfit is mostly worn by women in the present.
"One way to present my country is through fashion," Nguyen said. "Oftentimes, there are printed designs that represent the culture beliefs. For example, my ao dai’s color is gold; it has scales which mimics the dragon’s scales. Golden dragon represents prosperity – or fortune and luck, in some interpretations."
Nguyen will also present information about Vietnam at another IEW event, the International Fair.
Madiha Mirza, a first-year graduate student, will represent Pakistan at the fashion show and at the International Fair.
"I will be wearing a saree, a traditional South Asian female dress," Mirza said. "I decided to wear a saree because it is a gift from my mother. This summer, my mother saw this particular style of saree in a movie and immediately thought that I would look beautiful in it. So, she shopped for the fabric, got it stitched from the tailor, and then sent it to me! The saree is red in color because it is an important color in our culture; it is a color of love, seduction and passion. It also symbolizes good luck, prosperity and strength. Red is also associated with the rising sun, thus (associated with) happiness, joy and blessing."
Mirza, who will also be attending several of the other events, said she decided to participate in the fashion show because she wanted to inform the St. Thomas community "about Pakistan's vibrant and dynamic culture while dispelling stereotypes and misconceptions about my country and religion."
"Culture, heritage, and traditions are important to everyone," Mirza said. "The International Education Week offers the opportunity to celebrate the diversity at the University of St. Thomas by sharing our culture and learning about others. Cross-cultural understanding and appreciation of differences among cultures is a great way to bridge the cultural gap and build meaningful relationships with each other."
Other St. Thomas IEW events include:
Tuesday, Nov. 18
- International Fair; 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Campus Way in Anderson Student Center
- International Trivia Night; 4-6 p.m.; Dancing Ganesha restaurant
Wednesday, Nov. 19
- International Leadership Program Speaker; 6-8:30 p.m.; Terrence Murphy Hall, Thornton Auditorium
Thursday, Nov. 20
- CultureLink Tea Presentations: China; 3-4 p.m.; Koch Commons
Friday, Nov. 21
- Football (Soccer) Tournament; 1-3 p.m.; O'Shaughnessy Stadium (Rain site: McCarthy Gym)
- GMSA CultureFest; 6-8:30 p.m.; O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium
For more information on each event, and information about international menus featured on campus during IEW, visit International Student Services.
Events are sponsored by International Student Services, International Education Center, ELS Language Services, Office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement and the International Leadership Program.