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Creating Community on Campus: Quad Cities World Culture Festival Recap

Quad City residents don’t need a passport or an expensive vacation to experience cultures from around the world. The World Affairs Council of the Quad Cities (WACQC) offered a taste, both literally and figuratively, of worldly culture right here at home.

The Rogalski Center Ballroom was buzzing with excitement at the Quad Cities World Culture Festival on April 2. Organizers say around 150 people were in attendance, and the crowd was made up of both students and community members.

Some of the most notable attractions included a silent auction of baskets filled with candies and trinkets from around the world, cultural dance performances, and a fashion show showcasing traditional clothing from various countries. Festival goers were also given a Native American archery demonstration and a showcase of the Pakistani national anthem.

The perimeter of the ballroom was lined with different displays pertaining to the countries represented. Nations such as Syria, Ukraine, South Korea, and many others served an array of international dishes for Quad City residents to sample.

WACQC program director, and St. Ambrose communications professor, Jim Baumann says he has a great appreciation for the international influence present at the festival.

“It’s really cool to get to experience different cultures that I don’t normally see. It’s nice to see a melding of cultures at one event as well.”

St. Ambrose students hailing from different cultures also took great pride in the event. Seniors and fashion models Daniel Salazar and Samantha Sancen noted the sense of ease they felt surrounded by the various international cultures.

“I’d say comfortable is a good word. It’s just really cool to see a lot of different cultures that aren’t my own,” Sancen said. 

According to Salazar, feelings of discomfort can be more common than one would imagine, and it’s easy to feel ostracized as a minority. For many, these feelings are only exemplified by attending classes at a predominantly white institution.

“You don’t feel like the odd one out, you know? We’re all different,” he said.

Daniel also praised the inspiring and uplifting energy of the festival.

“It’s definitely enlightening to see a bunch of different cultures come together in a place like this. St. Ambrose isn’t just about education, it’s about building community. As a student of color I just really appreciate the effort that has been put into this event today,” he said.

The Quad Cities World Culture Festival is hosted annually by WACQC, a nonprofit organization that dedicates itself to promoting awareness of international affairs. The organization is part of the larger national association of World Affairs Councils of America, which focuses on promoting program initiatives around the entire country.

To learn more about how to get involved with international affairs in the Quad Cities, visit their website at https://www.wacqc.org/.

Fashion show models walk the runway in clothes representing their Mexican and Tex-Mex heritages. From left: Samantha Sancen, Daniel Salazar, and Dora De La Cruz. Photo via World Affairs Council of the Quad Cities Facebook page.