The International Club of Florida Gulf Coast University has teamed up with over 50 cultural clubs this week to bring back an annual event that has become part of the fabric of FGCU dating back to the school’s creation: International Celebration Week.
FGCU is the home to an abundance of international and exchange students from all over the world. There are some from Europe and Asia, Central and Latin America, and so many more. FGCU is a hub for this inclusive international community, and this week is devoted to celebrating the culture and lives they bring to campus.
“I grew up in Miami Beach, I grew up thinking the whole world was cultural and international,” Randi Levey, president of the FGCU International Club, said. “It wasn’t until I came to college and moved here (to Fort Myers) that I realized that the whole world isn’t like that.”
Levey, along with her international vice president from France, Sophie Halb, are at the forefront of planning the week’s festivities. This year, Levey wanted to bring something totally new to the table to bring more attention to the club as well as FGCU’s cultural campus.
“We really want the American students to get to know the international students,” Levey said. “They don’t really disperse into the culture, and that’s the most important part while they’re here studying abroad.”
Each day of the week is a dedication to different continents. The week kicked off with Asia on Monday and Europe on Tuesday. Today the celebration will continue with a tribute to Africa. Latin America is celebrated tomorrow and North America on Friday.
At the start of each day, students can take pictures in front of different landmarks in a designated photo booth and pick up their passports. These passports contain a full itinerary of the week’s events, as well as incentives for participating in each day.
At the end of the week, students who have collected passport stickers from each and every day may receive a free t-shirt. Each activity is also hosting a raffle for a globe, a scratch-off map and camera. The more tickets, the better the chance to win. These tickets must be turned in by 6 p.m. to the International Services office in Reed 122.
Tonight, in a collaboration with the Music Club, the international club will gather at the Chickee Hut in North Lake village from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for a bonfire. Plans also include lighting the Asian lanterns and releasing them under the full moon, symbolizing the release of wishes.
Friday morning, “Color of the Word” will begin the day. Enlighten Us and the International Club will bring out a giant board for students to paint on about their experiences in life and during the week.
“They want to do a painting where every student can paint something together,” Halb said. “I think we’ll do some meditation also.”
The festivities will end on Friday evening with a public, semi-formal gala. There will be live entertainment, guest speakers and a three-course meal. Tickets are free, but in limited quantities. To reserve a spot, register online and check out the International Celebration Week’s Facebook page.
“It’s so exciting to see their faces and how excited they get,” Levey said. “That’s what I love about being in the International Club. … This is what this is for, this is right, this is how it’s supposed to be. Because you see those faces and they’re excited and having fun, and you say ‘I made this moment happen, I made these connections.’”
Having a blast already? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here daily for new photographs of the week’s events.
© 2016 Lee Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Photography by Aiden Strawhun © Lee Herald