TRU celebrates diversity with IDays showcase

International Days finishes strong with celebration of diversity and fashion

Like every year, this year’s IDays festivities came to close with one final celebration of diversity last Friday with the flag parade, followed by the cultural showcase. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

TRU held its annual finale on March 9, marking the end of International Days. With over 2800 (10.2%) international students, IDays showcase’s have become a platform for many to display their culture through their traditional wear, songs and dances.

For the better part of IDays’ history, it has been organized by Craig Engelson and his team at TRU World. Last year, the university bid him farewell and his team took over. Though no longer a part of IDays, Engelson made an appearance at the fashion show in his customized jacket with his name sewed over it. 

The Omega spoke to Idah Msiska, international student advisor at TRU World, about this year’s organization.

“Everyone had to come together,” said Idah, “It’s hard to fill in Craig’s shoes but we did it.”

Idah also extended her sincere appreciation to the volunteers and participants who make the event possible time and again.

The second highest majority of international students on campus is Indians (22.1%), after Chinese (29.7%). This was evident in the showcase where the performances were dominated by the Asian subcontinent, especially Indians. Though the showcase has usually ended on an East-Indian (Bhangra or Bollywood) performance, at least within the last few years, this year it ended with a phenomenal African performance by Dance Afreaka.

“Next year I would like to see singing and dancing from more cultures,” Msiska said, “I would like to encourage other students to seize this opportunity to showcase their own culture because this is the one event that we have in a whole year where we get to learn about their culture.”

IDays has cultural representation from several nations from across the globe, and that raises questions about their authenticity and how true to their roots the representation is. The Omega spoke to a well-travelled TRU student who visited Zimbabwe last year and her expectations were to find some traditional dances at IDays. In her opinion, most of the pan-African performances were very westernized.

Another TRU student Swathi Anna Sunil, who hails from India, has performed a Bollywood dance for three years in a row at IDays. In a conversation with Sunil, she said some changes had been made to their routine.

“We definitely make some changes to it. There are some modern twists, but we try to keep the root true to Bollywood dance,” she said.

Even though the crowd’s energy was palpable as every year, the event received criticism from a few students regarding the limited knowledge one receives about a culture from mere spectacles of dances. Maybe the time has come to incorporate changes in the IDays showcase to help attendees gather more information about a cultural performance, rather than just enjoying it for the entertainment value.

All photos by Juan Cabrejo: