A nonstop trip around the world in the fastest commercial plane would take nearly two full days. For those with a little less time on their hands, Cruise the World provided a convenient alternative, bringing together 32 international and cultural student organizations Saturday in the International Ballroom of the University of Idaho’s Bruce Pitman Center.
The event was set up with booths loosely organized by global region. Central and South American nations lined the east wall of the ballroom, opposite rows of Asian and Middle Eastern booths. Still, Nigeria sat alongside Panama, the Isle of Man set up shop next to a Chinese booth and the Muslim Student Association of UI table faced the Indian booth – pulling together nationalities and cultures in an event that managed to celebrate them individually.
For the first time, Cruise the World was offered to the public as a free event. While in the past the organizers have charged admission fees, Morgan Gardner, outreach coordinator for the UI International Programs Office, said she hoped the change would enable visitors to spend their money on food and crafts at cultural booths.
“I think the intention of it being free is that more people will come inside and purchase food,” Gardner said.
Gardner said she hoped that not charging admission would “get more people here to explore the amazing diversity we have in Moscow.”
“Everybody seems to love this event, so it’s pretty easy to get people involved,” Gardner said. This year, Gardner used social media to promote the event and find vendors and performers among the Moscow community.
Throughout the event, the main stage was host to 15 different musical artists and cultural demonstrations, ranging from a Bangladeshi lyrical solo to the UI Korean Student Association’s “Super Spicy Noodle Challenge.”
UI freshman Tanner Reathaford responded to a call put out on social media for the event.
“I saw a Facebook post asking for performers and I asked to perform,” Reathaford said. Reathaford played blues charts on his guitar for visitors, and said he hopes to continue performing at future Cruise the World events.
“It’s awesome to see the international community here,” Reathaford said. “I definitely will come back next year.”
In between featured performances, event-goers had the opportunity to meet and learn from representatives at each of the cultural booths. Many of the represented countries displayed traditional clothing and food, in addition to national currency, art forms and religious symbols.
Attendees could try a cup of Arabic coffee from the Saudi Arabian table, receive authentic henna body artwork at the Indian booth, see traditional stitched art from the Guna people of Panama and make a simple origami creation with guidance from representatives of Japan. With opportunities to try food and activities from around the world, almost everyone found something to enjoy.
“The tea at the Nepal booth is so good,” said Patrick Determan, an advisor for the UI College of Engineering and attendee of previous Cruise the World events.
“I think it is just really great to see all of these cultures from around the world,” Determan said. “It makes the world feel like a really inviting place.”
Beth Hoots can be reached at email@example.com