UM to Host 25th Annual International Culture and Food Festival

February 17, 2016

: Natyada Khampaeng performs “Rum-Ooway-Pon-On-Wan,” the Thai Sweet Dance, during UM’s 23rd annual International Culture and Food Festival. Photo by Todd Goodrich.MISSOULA – The University Center at the University of Montana will once again become Montana’s largest venue for global sights, sounds and tastes during the annual UM International Culture and Food Festival on Sunday, March 20.

The festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and has become Montana’s largest annual internationally-themed festival. This year’s theme, “25th Jubilee! Around the World in 25 Years,” highlights the many metaphorical global journeys that past festival-goers experienced during the past two and a half decades.

“These ‘journeys’ have led to rich and unique international experiences in dance, music, food, film, and arts and crafts,” said festival Director Mona Mondava. “The festival has sparked multifaceted cultural discoveries and learning, and most importantly, inspired countless cross-cultural friendships and connections.”

This year, the festival expects 3,500 global “travelers” to once again enjoy this world journey.

The UM International Culture and Food Festival is one of the cornerstone events of UM’s International Month, a series of programs and activities on campus during March. For a full schedule of International Month events, call 406-243-2288 or visit http://www.umt.edu/international-programs/international_month_default.php.

The 2016 International Culture and Food Festival will feature the world food bazaar, international culture show, an interactive children’s world festival, a cultural expo, the Montana International Children’s Film Festival, and a silent auction of arts and crafts from around the world. A parade of flags will kick off the festival at noon, and all activities will run simultaneously until 5 p.m. Admission costs $6 for the general public and $3 for children 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling Foreign Student and Scholar Services at 406-243-2226.

The world food bazaar in the UC Atrium will feature authentic dishes from regions around world. Food is priced from 50 cents to $4 and will include American Indian tacos; Greek souvlaki; Persian sambusas; Malaysian kam heong and teh tarik; Brazilian feijoada and brigadeiro; Indonesian soto ayam; Middle Eastern hummus, baklava and Bedouin coffee; and Native American buffalo tips and berry soup, among other culinary delights.

The five-hour lively International Culture Show will take place on the third floor of the UC in the Ballroom and will include traditional and contemporary performances such an Indian dance depicting Lord Vishnu’s incarnations, Balinese shadow puppet music, a mask dance  from Sierra Leone and Guinea, a traditional Japanese fisherman’s dance, and Brazilian music and dance.  

Children’s World, which will be held on the second floor of the UC in the Commons, will present an imaginative children’s festival with activity stations featuring hands-on, fun, intercultural activities. Children can participate in games, dances, storytelling, multiethnic crafts and origami, as well as meet people from different cultures. Kids will be issued “passports” and can earn “world citizen” status by completing activities. At the same time, the Montana International Children’s Film Festival will feature entertaining, thought-provoking and visually stunning short films for all ages in the UC Theater on the third floor. In addition the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center will offer children peace-making activities.

The cultural pavilions expo area in the UC Ballroom will present displays from individual countries and internationally focused local organizations. Displays will include colorful information about countries, a world-items market and information booths.

Those interested in becoming a Community Friend to incoming UM international students will have the opportunity to sign up for information from the Missoula International Friendship Program. The organization also will hold a silent auction of arts and crafts from many parts of the world.

The festival is sponsored by the UM International Student Association and Foreign Student and Scholar Services.

Contact: Mona Mondava, International Festival director, UM Foreign Student and Scholar Services, 406-243-6059, mona.mondava@umontana.edu.