Fatima’s U.S. Experience V – Crystal Bridges & Little Rock

Fatima is a Visiting International student from Pakistan. She spent the Fall 2013 semester at the U of A. She shares her experiences in a series of blog posts.

My ifriend Gina Gray is an amazing woman. She is big-hearted and generously thoughtful. Hence, one day when I mentioned that I had not been able to go to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art with the International Cultural Team, she volunteered to take me one weekend, and I eagerly took her up on her offer.

Pow! Bam!

An interesting fact about Fayetteville that I have not mentioned in my previous posts is that the first Wal-mart was opened in Rogers, which is a town not too far from Fayetteville (a 20 minute drive, I’ve been told). The owner, Sam Walton, was originally from Oklahoma, a neighboring state of Arkansas. Before opening Wal-mart, he had opened up a five-and-dime store in Bentonville, which is also a town 30 minutes away from Fayetteville. Because of Wal-mart’s prominent presence, Fayetteville enjoys a thriving, vibrant arts scene. The Waltons have donated generously to various projects over the years. The Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art is one of those projects that was funded by the daughter of Sam Walton.

Gina and I, along with one of Gina’s colleagues Christina, set out on a rainy Saturday to visit the museum. The museum is built to blend it with its very beautiful forest surroundings. The roofs are curved downwards like the back of a beetle, so when it rains the water slides down them and into the lake that it is built over. The museum itself is divided into various sections. We started off with the more realist, baroque-style paintings of the early 1600s and moved on to the more impressionist paintings. Some of the quoted prices of the paintings were very interesting – to quote one fellow visitor exclaimed, ‘I feel like I shouldn’t even be standing so close to them!’

The fact that I could recognize many of the modernist American greats – Rothko, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Wyeth, Rockwell – before even reading the label accompanying them filled me with pretentious art-connoisseur pride. I knew more than my American guides in the era, so much so that Christina asked me how I knew so much about art. It helps to be painfully pretentious at times.

Later, Gina treated Christina and me to lunch at the museum café, and soon we were ready to head back. We could not visit the tracks surrounding the museum that day due to the persistent raining, but it still was a surprisingly productive and fun day.

Little Rock

The International Students Office organized a trip to Little Rock for (surprise, surprise) International Students. I signed up immediately. Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas, and there are a lot of people on campus from Little Rock.

We visited the Farmer’s Market of Little Rock, as well as the Arkansas Museum of Natural History. Interesting as both places were, I was truly moved by the Museum of African-American History, or as it is better known – the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. I have read about slavery in America before, but here were some of the truly, movingly powerful moments from that part of American history. Here we learned about the lynching of John Carter and the North Little Rock Six (amazingly, the receptionist at this museum was the younger sister of one of the six students). These were stories of true courage – to stand up in the face of millions of people and demand for a basic right.

African-American history has always fascinated me. I loved listening to old-school rap during my younger days (Tupac, Wu-Tang) and I have been a huge admirer of James Baldwin and Toni Morrison’s writings. Hence, this Museum was a very meaningful experience for me.

After the Visiting Student Program by Hanna Lee


Hanna Lee studied at the University of Arkansas for one semester as a visiting student during the Fall 2011. She recently completed her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and also received a teacher certificate for English in February 2013 from the Sogang University, Korea. During this important time of her life to make a transition from college to the professional field, she is reflecting on her experiences during and after the UofA.

Here’s her story:

Upon coming back to Korea, my heart was full of excitement and confidence and I could not wait to start my new semester in my own university. I was completely ready to have a fresh restart at my school and redesign my future. While studying at the UofA, I learned more than just a language. I became more open-minded, not afraid of failing, and more confident in what I wanted to accomplish. All happened thanks to sharing thoughts and cultures with so many friends from all over the world at the UofA. All of those experiences encouraged me to enjoy classes in English at Sogang University and motivated me to be successful in the teaching practicum for a month.

However, happy moments did not last forever as part of re-entry culture shock process. Becoming an English teacher in Korea is honorable, of course, but it is also burdensome. Not only you have to be fluent in English, but you’re also expected to be excellent so that your students get good score on so many different kinds of examinations. In fact, it was indeed stressful to learn English as a school subject when I was in high school. There was almost no chances to use English in real communicative situations. As I was working on my teaching certificate, I started to wonder if I could enjoy teaching English as a subject, not as a lively language or communication tool.

With those worries in mind, I took a teacher’s eligibility test. And I failed. Looking back, this event might have been the biggest failure in my life. However, I did not give up and I decided to use this experience as a stepping stone toward my future.

Hanna & Anastasia from Ukraine

I decided to be more realistic and more idealistic at the same time: First, I admitted the fact that teaching English in Korea could be a different experience. At this point, it is important for Korean students to do well in tests and English is a school subject. However, I also promised myself to encourage my students to learn about another aspect of this amazing language: The power of English to connect people from all over the world. In this globalized society, it is one of the best communication tools you can use to absorb new cultures and share your own culture with many other people. I still wonder how I could have been able to make friends with the people from Ukraine, Burma, Ghana, and other countries at the UofA if not for English. With my own experiences, my hope is that my students in the future will also be able to use English to experience new world when they go on a trip, read magazines, and play online games with foreign people, not only for the exams!

With her Friendship Family

To make my dream come true, I will still need to do my best to pass the teachers eligibility test at the end of this year. Currently, I am studying for the test and also teaching at middle school as a part-time instructor. My goal is to study TESOL or educational psychology in a graduate school to gain more expertise in the field in 10 years. Ultimately, I would like to be a teacher who can truly inspire students and can strongly encourage students to live hopeful and happy lives with this wonderful communication tool we have, English.

For about a year since I left U of A, I went through many things both encouraging and challenging. But as you know, life is all about up-and-downs! Moreover, you can spurt toward the better future after experiencing failures. Every moment I experienced at UofA taught me various lessons and provided me wonderful friends, unforgettable memories and new challenges. You may even be able to find your future goal at the UofA. My dear friends on the Visiting Student Program, please never let go off your best moment in your life. Enjoy every single day as much as possible. Also, please remember what you  have learned and what your heart has felt even after you go back to your home countries!

Wishing you all the best.

Musical Memphis by Mavra Zehra

The Visiting Student Program organizes a special program to the Walton Arts Center per semester to explore a part of the U.S. culture. This time, we picked the musical Memphis and many students joined us. Thank you those who joined the program! We also would like to say Thank You to Ms. Lauren Mahony, Group Concierge at the Walton Arts Center, to arrange tickets for us all the time. Thank You, Lauren!

Here’s Mavra’s story:

Before arriving in Fayetteville, I set up three mottoes for myself; Educate, Experience and Explore. One of my goals is to educate people in the U.S. about my country, Pakistan. Narrate the rich and vibrant culture and introduce practices and beliefs prevalent in my land and remove any misconceptions that people may have. Of course, I’d like to experience the new land, its values, culture, and heritage. To achieve those goals, I’ve decided to explore the country as much as I can.

Musical Memphis

It was on one Sunday evening when I came across the advertisement of the musical, Memphis, just outside the Walton Arts Center (WAC) as I was strolling through Dickson Street with my new international friends. “The Musical, Winner of the 2010 Tony Award” These buzz words were enough to spark my excitement. I knew I had to watch this musical to “experience” Broadway.

At the perfect timing, the Visiting Student Program announced that they would invite visiting students to enjoy this delightful musical. But there was more: Not only were we going to see the the musical but were also given the privilege to meet some of the cast and crew members. Things could not have been better.

Special breakfast program by WAC

In the morning on Wednesday, February 6th, we went to WAC for breakfast – a special program with some of cast members who were going to be on the stage in this musical that evening and the producer of this Tony Award winning musical. It was an exhilarating affair. The first hand account from those people of their journey in making this dream come true and the story of constant perseverance that helped them survive through was truly inspirational.

After this morning program, I felt prepared to enjoy the show. That evening, visiting students gathered together again and walked over to WAC. The performance began. I was simply excited.

The story starts with a white man arriving in an underground African-American rock and roll bar in 1950’s Memphis. There the story develops on the twists in his career, explores the various dimension of his relationship and how his perspective influences the views of those around him.

Group of visiting students at WAC after the show

Although I had a vague idea about the historical background of the Southern part of the U.S. mostly via literary works, I was clueless when it came to the culture in the 50s. Yet, watching the play did more than just giving me an inside look into the 50’s era. The soulful music, the theatrical performances and the glorious singing left me awestruck. The constant shift in the mood of the musical from being funny, sexy to emotional just added more colors to the evening.

For a few moments I was not just watching the performance, I was experiencing it, the whole atmosphere of being in Memphis during the 50’s. I believe my feelings for the performances were equally shared by other members of the audience, as suggested by the overwhelming response that the cast got at the end of the final act. It was a wonderful night to experience a part of the U.S. culture and history.

In Pakistan, I had never witnessed such perfection of different forms of arts and talents – music, dance and acting. The form of plays could be of course different since it needs to cater to an audience with a taste for local values and art and I truly enjoyed every single aspect of the performance at the musical, Memphis.

Mavra and the producer of Memphis, Mr. Dickinson

Being a Cultural Ambassador in the U.S. for this semester, I have a lot of responsibilities, especially towards my own country. I have the arduous task of breaking the stereotypes that may have formed in the minds of the people over time regarding Pakistan. I have to utilize this exchange program to explore the U.S cultural iceberg from its tip and understand fully the various beliefs and practices that fuel the culture here. And most importantly I have  to discover a wide array of culture and learn how to respect each of them just the way they are. I hope to achieve  goals I set for myself within the short span of one semester and take away with me beautiful memories to last for a lifetime.

Spending Chinese New Year with the Biggest Family by Qiwei Yang

Qiwei from China is a new visiting student for the Spring 2013 semester. I met her at the Chinese Students & Scholars New Year Banquet 2013 and wondered how she’d feel to be away home during the important celebration time. She shared her story like below:

CSSA's New Year Banquet 2013 ©Hanfeng Zhang

After staying in Fayetteville and studying at the University of Arkansas (U of A)  for a month, I have overcome tiring jet-lag and some culture shocks. I started to be able to enjoy cold drinks and fresh vegetables, which we do not drink or eat normally in China. I have gradually learned how to say “excuse me” and “thank you” at right moments. I also started to know more about how people think here and how to make friends with them. It seemed everything was going well, except the fact that I was going to spend the Chinese New Year outside of my country. I was feeling so sad that I would miss this wonderful time of the year, the Chinese New Year celebration. Thinking about authentic tasty Chinese food such as dumplings and New Year cakes, fun and exciting activities like dragon dancing, lion dancing and fireworks, or gifts from elder family members such as red envelops… I was missing all of those festivities a lot. And, of course, it was the quality time with my family that I was missing the most.

Red Pockets ©Hanfeng Zhang

However, soon enough, I learned about news that Chinese Students & Scholars Association (CSSA) was going to organize their annual Chinese New Year Banquet at the U of A. I felt so excited. I got the event ticket immediately and was so looking forward to this day eagerly. At the same time, I was very curious about the banquet and had many questions — “What kind of Chinese food will they serve?” “Will they use Chinese language at the banquet?” and “What if I don’t like it and feel more homesick…?” With those questions in my mind, this event day finally came.

On Saturday, February 2, I got all decked out in my Cheongsam that I brought from China. When I arrived at the Union building, many members of CSSA were already there welcoming guests to the event with red pockets. I took a moment, stood there and looked around.The place was really bustling, just like the festivity feelings back home. Friends greeted each other happily and the Union Ballroom entrance was decorated beautifully. I went into the Union Ballroom and found my friends there. Some of them said to me “Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Happy New Year)” in Chinese, which made me just so happy.

Kanfu Panda Performance ©Hanfeng Zhang

After dinner time, the gala evening started. Programs on the stage showed the Chinese culture through singing, dancing, doing Kung Fu and a gorgeous fashion show for traditional Chinese cultural attires. Among those performances, my favorite was Kung Fu Panda dancing since our friends from all over the world also joined this fun performance for this New Year’s event. Especially because I knew they practiced it and prepared themselves for it for a long time, I really appreciated it and enjoyed this opening performance.

During the banquet, I was simply happy and satisfied. And I realized “Wow, this is just like a big family!” I watched performances with my friends and we spent such memorable moments together. I didn’t feel homesick at all. My new friends were there with me.

Qiwei (on the right) and her friends

All of the sudden, I remembered my childhood memory, the time when my mother whispered to me on one of Chinese New Year celebration days long time ago — “Anyone who celebrates the New Year together is your family.”

It made me so warm within me and I had a really great day at the CSSA’s Chinese New Year Banquet.

I hope the Year of the Snake will bring good luck to all of us. Upon welcoming this new year and experiencing new cultures with new friends from all over the world, I really hope that I can improve my English and gain different perspectives to look at the world. Also, I hope more and more people will learn about the diverse Chinese culture and I am more than happy to share my culture throughout this journey.


Thank you, Qiwei, for sharing your story. Being away from home gives you opportunities to appreciate your own culture more. I hope you’ll experience and learn more about not only the U.S. culture but also other cultures through your friends.

To view all the performances from the CSSA’s event, please visit the play list.

Fall 2012 Highlights by Sanga Yoon

Sanga Yoon is a visiting student for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. Upon finishing her first semester, she reflected her memories. Don’t you think Arkansas has beautiful nature to offer? We also hope our visiting students will utilize some of programs by ISS to maximize their experiences like Sanga does!

Enjoy her story:

During my two semesters in the U.S. as a visiting student, I have been trying to have diverse experiences as much as possible. Since I arrived, I have attended a wedding, joined a musical program with the Visiting Student Program to enjoy Shrek, taught Korean culture to children in the community and so on.

Sanga on the horse!

One of highlights of the Fall semester was the day we did horse riding with Mr. and Mrs. Grove.

My friends and I visited their house early this semester. Their place is one and half hours driving from Fayetteville. As we were getting closer to their house, we saw a lot of different animals and I was excited and felt like I was experiencing “real countryside” in Arkansas.

It was my first time to learn how to take care of a horse, how to ride a horse and control it while riding it! At first, I felt frightened by horses, but Mrs. Grove told me that I simply needed to be kind and sensitive to the horse and treat him like my friend. I learned how to pull the rope gently and tap his body with my feet to let the horse walk straight. She taught me how to make turns to right and left by pulling the rope softly to the direction I’d like to go to. After learning the basics to control the horse, we left the barn. It was a great experience for me and the wind from the mountains made me feel like I was becoming one with nature. Being outside with the horse – not a horse in a cage at a zoo, but a real horse I could feel against my skin – was such an exciting and memorable experience for me.

Sanga & the horse she rode

Another thing I enjoyed with Mr. and Mrs. Gove was watching a numerous number of starts in the dark sky at night while enjoying S’more around the bonfire. The city where I am from is Daegu, which is the third biggest city in Korea. Daegu is not as busy or crowded as Seoul, but it is still surrounded by the cluster of tall buildings. So, it is somewhat difficult for us to enjoy starts in the sky because the air is not clear, skyscrapers are covering the sky and the lights in town during the night time are too bright. Enjoying starts with good company was a wonderful experience and a great way of finishing my horse riding day.

Another highlight of my Fall semester is definitely Thanksgiving.

FF kids!

My Friendship Family, the Bingamans, invited me to their family gathering in Eureka Springs. There were almost twenty family members getting together and they welcomed me as if I were a real family member. We played games, sang songs along with guitar and watched videos from their past memories. Everything was a new experience for me to spend Thanksgiving with an American family and I felt the real love of the family during the holidays.

In return, I prepared a traditional Korean food, Bul-Go-Gi for the family. They all liked my dish. Of course, I enjoyed the traditional Thanksgiving food as well. I had never tried turkey before but all the dishes they prepared were delicious.

Cold but warm night with the family

Despite the cold weather we had, I felt very warm after spending the traditional holiday with my Friendship Family.

I think Korean culture and the culture in the U.S. are significantly different. When I arrived in the U.S. for the first time, I was not familiar with almost every situation. However, I am confident that I have learned and adapted many different things since the beginning of the semester.

Before I came here, I thought improving my English was the priority task to do as a visiting student, however, after spending three months at the University of Arkansas, my way of thinking about the study abroad has been changed a little bit: The more experiences I have, the more chances I will speak English and also learn the culture while sharing my culture. I will try to find more fun and educational events and activities throughout my stay.

World Trade Center Visit with Int’l Business Club by Isis Comerio

Isis is a visiting student from Brazil on the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. She said “I’d like to share my experience with the International Business Club and the field trip to the Arkansas World Trade Center with other students regarding how much we can learn through new experiences and make friends when you get involved with the campus community.” Here’s her story:

Isis getting ready for job fairs!

I arrived at the University of Arkansas in August 2012 and since then I have discovered many opportunities to get involved with the things I like. Being part of the International Business Club (IBC) is one of them.

Towards the end of September I received an email with an invitation to the Mr. Eduardo Vinagre’s lecture that was promoted by the IBC. Mr. Eduardo Vinagre has over 35 years of experience in global supply chain management, logistics systems, sales development, and marketing. A leader in all things related to international business, he shared his experiences with the students of all majors in that lecture. Since the lecture was advertised by the IBC, I was interested in knowing more about the student organization itself. Helmsley Manchamee, the Vice-President of IBC, gave me more information about it and how to join the club. In his words, “the goal [of the International Business Club] is to make International Business more accessible to all students”. He explained that the club aims to showcase business professionals who are successful in International Business and also promote Study Abroad programs to enhance students’ learning. IBC has monthly meetings to discuss the upcoming events and ways how people can get involved. For example, in our last meeting one of the topics was the Study Abroad Fair and we discussed who could volunteer to help in the fair.

Presentation at WTC

As a visiting international student from Brazil who is studying International Business, I decided to be part of the club because I wanted to get involved with International Business, not just with my classes, but also through experiences that I could learn from and network with people from different nationalities. The experience so far has been much more than what I expected.

One example of why being part of IBC has been such an amazing experience was the field trip to the Arkansas World Trade Center (WTC) on October 26, 2012. I wanted to visit the organization because it was the place where everything that I learned in my classes could apply to the “real world”. The President and CEO of the Arkansas WTC, Mr. Dan Hendrix, is the professor who teaches the International Management course, that I am taking here at the university. Therefore, I was interested in knowing more from the people who work at the organization.

IBC members at WTC

The Arkansas WTC is located in Rogers and provides services such as specialized global business analysis and guidance, expert trade development, customized international research, business to business match-making, and trade mission support to businesses that want to do business internationally. Twelve students participated in this field trip. We were welcomed by Mr. Herbert Morales, Director of Latin America Trade Development and Ms. Denise Thomas, Director of External Relations. Together with two interns of Arkansas WTC, they presented the mission of the organization, what they do and information about their internship program. It was an amazing presentation that answered all the questions that I had about the Arkansas WTC. I believe that going to the organization headquarter gave me a clear idea about their work and the people who work there. They are truly passionate about what they do, which inspires me as a student of International Business.

I believe that all that I have experienced so far studying at the University of Arkansas and being part of this community has already made me see the world in a different light. This is just the beginning!

Bentonville Field Trip by Morad Al Zaghal

Morad Al Zaghal from Jordan, an architecture visiting student, joined our field trip to Bentonville. He shared his unique perspective to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum. Compare his story to Sun Li from China from the Spring 2012: very different and both are great stories!


Visiting Student Program Bentonvill Trip

In October, the Visiting Student Program in the International Students (ISS) Office organized a trip to Bentonville to visit the Walmart Visitor Center, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The trip was possible because of the amazing volunteers who drove us there.

Visiting Bentonville had been a recommendation I received from many friends since I arrived to Fayetteville and I was so excited to know the ISS office was going to organize this trip for visiting students. Although the timing of the trip actually had a schedule conflict with my design studio class, my professor thought it would be beneficial for me to visit the Crystal Bridges, and he allowed me to go on the trip and make up for the work at the next studio.

Morad viewing displays at the Visitor Center

First, we visited the Walmart Visitor Center where we could learn about the history of the company; from its start as a small store at the corner of the Bentonville square to its rapid progression to the massive global company as it is right now. It was pretty inspiring to be able to see the success story of a working man into a famous businessman.

After having early dinner at an American restaurant at the Bentonville square, we headed to the museum. I was extremely excited for this part of the trip! Being an architecture student, I already knew the building complex of the museum was designed by the renowned architect Moshe Safdie who’s mostly known for his project Habitat 67.


Upon arrival to the main entrance you’ll notice the 47’ tall stainless steel tree sculpture named “Yield”, designed by artist Roxy Paine. The art stands in front of the museum and welcomes visitors. It marks the fact that the museum is already known as one of the premier art museums and cultural attractions in the states, a world-class cultural attraction that was made possible by Alice Walton: Her vision and donation of her personal art collections enrich people’s lives in the Northwest Arkansas where she lived and has her childhood memories.

After walking to the entrance of the museum and taking the stairs down to the gift shop and the restaurant, you’ll be guided through the galleries; the museum displays the work of American masters from the Colonial era to twentieth-century abstract expressionism and pop art, ending back at the museum’s restaurant where we began.

Crystal Bridges

During the time given for us to enjoy the galleries, I was mostly looking at the building, the interior, the exterior, and their relationship to the beautiful lake that in some points continued underneath the galleries. The interior of the building was indeed contemporary, but warm unlike many other contemporary interiors: perhaps because of the use of wood with glass and concrete, in addition to the organic form of the ceilings.

I chose to go through the whole museum first, and leave the best for last; the modern and contemporary art exhibition! I was so happy to be able to finally see paintings that I became familiar with because I studied about them either in “History of Modern Architecture” or “American Landscape” course that I am currently taking during the Fall 2012 semester. It was an opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible for me to link what I study with what I experience right away if I was not studying at the U of A.

Crystal Bridges

Being an architecture student studying abroad is indeed very beneficial for my experience. For my appreciation of good spaces and good art of the era, chances like these are what accumulate in the memory to allow better perception of the art and architecture that I am exposed to, here or at home. The Crystal Bridges experience itself was special uniqueness to me because of the beautiful architecture and landscape architecture of the museum, and the magnificent exhibited works of art.

Presenting about Pakistan for 450 students! by Mehvish Hashmi

Aamir, Mehvish and Maha

In September, three students from Pakistan, Aamir, Maha and I visited Hellstern Middle School to present about our country. At first, when I learned about the opportunity to visit the middle school and we would be speaking in front of 450 students, I couldn’t believe it! I had never done a presentation for 450 people and I was not sure how we would prepare the presentation, let alone be able to speak in front of this massive audience.

During our presentation, we showed many pictures of our country to introduce different landscapes and attracting places which would be interesting to American middle school students. We presented various aspects of our culture, such as; sports, dances, music, clothing and things that would be fun for young students to learn. The audience was so attentive that I gained confidence second by second while presenting. The most challenging part was to think how we should present materials to make it more interesting while considering what 6th grade students would know.

Great Q & A session

In fact, those sixth graders had been reading a book, “Iqbal” by Franceso D Adam, which was a part of the reasons why we were invited. In this book, the main character, Iqbal, was described as someone who was working to abolish child laboring in Pakistan. We also included the information from this book while keeping the end of the story hidden from the children so they themselves would find out that Iqbal died because of his mission as they read the book.

It was my first time to visit a local school and it turned out to be a great experience. Schools here in the U.S. are entirely different from Pakistan. This middle school had a big hall to have lunch all together, whereas in Pakistan, we normally have lunch in small cafeteria, corridors or play grounds- depending on the school. Besides that, the building was very nice and neat whereas most of the school buildings in Pakistan would be houses which had been turned into schools. I found teachers here to be really interesting, caring and friendly. The relationship between teachers and students was very interactive. The students at the school we visited were really respectful, listened to our presentation attentively and asked a lot of questions which were relevant and sensible.

After the presentation, students gathered to ask more questions.

I learned different things from this experience. It was a little tough to work as a group to coordinate our differing schedules, but we managed to take out some time and communicate through emails to develop a good presentation. It made us learn how to manage time with our full schedules.

For me, presenting about my own country in Fayetteville through this ICT activity focused to reduce stereotypes people might have about Pakistan. This was a great opportunity to show that what media portrays about Pakistan may not be 100% truth. We desired to show the beautiful and fun cultures we have in our daily lives. It was a great experience to talk in front of those 450 students and to share Pakistani culture with them.

ICT & Fest of All by Young Hye Kwon

Young Hye on the right at Fest of All

One of the unique programs offered by the International Students & Scholars at the University of Arkansas is the International Culture Team (ICT). ICT is a group of leader students who “bring the world to the community”! Let’s take a look at Young Hye’s story about ICT and Fest of All!


It was the sixth of September when I participated in the Fest of All at the Fayetteville square. For me, it was a very good experience and I can not forget this forever!

One very normal day, when I checked my emails as usual, I found an invitation message to the “ICT Training I” to be an official member of International Culture Team (ICT). I signed up for the training immediately and went to the training. The training was really impressive with full of information and ideas about how to present my culture to different audiences. I thought it would be really helpful for me to be part of ICT and make my study abroad experience more interesting. Then, during the training, I learned about the international cultural festival in the community, called: Fest of All.

Fest of All

The instructor told me that there would be many students from different cultures and they could share their own cultures at the festival. It sounded really exciting, but I did not bring any traditional or cultural items from Korea, so I was worried about how I could represent my culture. The great thing, however, was that ICT had lots of items from various countries around the world already, including stuff from Korea, and I could borrow traditional Korean attire, shoes, accessories, flag and so on for my presentation.

At the event, I shared those items with other people and explained to them what they were and its cultural significance. Everybody was really excited and I was really proud of what I could contribute to the community on that day.

Young Hye and a girl wearing Hanbuk

Everything about Fest of All was great and very memorable. The most memorable thing was there were so many little children who were interested in learning about Korean culture. I thought I would be talking to mostly adults at the event, so it was a pleasant experience to interact with the children. Many girls were interested in the Korean traditional cultural attire, Hanbok. When I helped them to try on the dress, they had big smiles on their faces, which made me really happy.

Another great experience for me was learning about other cultures. There are a lot of ICT students from different countries, and it was exciting to learn more about their traditions and cultural items. I did not know much about their cultures, so it was a great time for me to learn more about where other ICT members were from and what their cultures would be like as well.

During this festival, I also thought about what volunteer work means in the U.S. There are probably not many differences between volunteer work here and in my home country, but one difference is people in my home country generally tend to think that only working on something big or donating money is helping community. Here, participating in events and sharing cultures at the events, like the Fest of All, could be considered as contributing to the community. I was so happy, then, to realize that I could help the Fayetteville community with my my knowledge about my country, Korea!

Cultural items from ICT

I believe that there will be a lot of chances where I can help the community if I eagerly participate in the International Culture Team programs while studying at the U of A as a visiting student. I want to show my culture more through ICT activities. There are many Korean students at the U of A, but it is rare to find people who are really knowledgeable about Korea. I really want to teach people about Korean culture and traditions through as many opportunities as possible while I am still in Fayetteville!