In its 177 years as an educational institution in the nation’s capital, GW has become a home away from home to thousands of international students.
Of the 19,356 students enrolled at GW, almost 2,500 hail from outside U.S. borders, according to University statistics.
Next week, the University will celebrate its diversity with the annual International Week, marking its turnaround from the days when the school educated ministers and missionaries.
During next week’s events, the Program Board plans to showcase more than 25 ethnic groups represented on campus.
Ramya Vivekanandan, PB’s international cultural affairs chair, said planning for the week’s events began early this semester.
Events will begin Friday with the International Date Showcase, during which members of the audience bid on dates of different ethnic backgrounds to promote interracial relationships, Vivekanandan said.
The South Asian Society will continue the festivities Saturday with its fifth annual Bhangra Blowout, an intercollegiate dance competition. The contest features Punjabi bhangra – a dance indigenous to northern India and Pakistan.
Kiran Devisetty, executive chair of the event, said 12 teams from around the country will participate in this year’s competition. The teams will travel from Texas, Michigan, New York and Maryland to perform a seven to 10 minute dance for a $1,000 first prize.
“The Bhangra Blowout is the largest South Asian (Society) event on the East coast,” Devisetty said.
The turnout for last year’s competition in Lisner Auditorium was so large, Devisetty said, that this year the event was moved to Constitution Hall. Devisetty said he expects more than 3,000 people to attend.
“Opening the Gate” – this year’s International Night show – is planned Sunday night at Lisner Auditorium.
One of the many groups performing will be the Turkish Student Association. The group will perform for the first time in costumes from Istanbul and includes 18 dancers from colleges around the District.
The Academic Center’s breezeway will be the site of Tuesday’s Market Place. International student organizations will introduce their objectives and activities to the GW community, and groups will present ethnic foods and traditions.
The keynote speaker for the week is His Excellency Nuzhet Kandemir, Turkey’s U.S. ambassador. Kandemir will address students in the Marvin Center Ballroom Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Halim Tansug, president-elect of the Turkish Student Association said he expects more than 300 people to attend as Kandemir addresses relations between Turkey and the United States.
The 14th annual Hunger Cleanup, a community service project sponsored by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness also will be included in the week’s events.
The music and politics of Bob Marley also will be recognized as part of International Week. Vendors and Marley fans will set up tables on the Quad dedicated to the musician’s contributions.
International Week will end with the 66th annual Embassy Dinner and Cultural Show, a formal event held in the Marvin Center Ballroom.