Travel the world without leaving Michigan at 29th annual International Festival

Contact: Korey Force
A Malaysian students receives help with his clothing from an older Malaysian community member.

The International Festival features music, performances, and fashion from all around the world. International students often receive help from family and community members who are also excited to showcase traditional clothing from their home countries.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The music, dance, food and fashions of nearly two dozen cultures will be showcased during Western Michigan University's 29th annual International Festival from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 25, on the second floor of the Bernhard Center. This year, the International Festival will include a food drive for the Invisible Need Project.

A popular event since 1989, the festival features cultural display tables, performances and a fashion show presenting apparel from students' home countries. Admission is free, and for a nominal fee, attendees may sample traditional cuisine from around the world prepared by international students in campus kitchens under the supervision of WMU Dining Services employees.

For the first time, the International Festival will feature a food drive for the Invisible Need Project Food Pantry. Each non-perishable food item will enter attendees into a drawing to win prizes from around campus.

"A common misconception about international students is that they do not suffer from economic hardships when, in reality, they often deal with the same financial constraints as domestic students. Unexpected financial difficulties can arise in any family from any country. In fact, over 20 percent of the students that access the Invisible Need Project Food Pantry are international," says Dr. Paulo Zagalo-Melo, associate provost of the Haenicke Institute for Global Education. "We are excited to include a food drive in this year's festival because it gives us a chance to give back to this initiative that helps so many of our students, domestic and international."

The International Festival annually attracts around 7,000 students and community members. With this opportunity to see the world, participants gain knowledge and appreciation for the diversity of cultures active on campus and in the community.

Festival Hosts and Sponsors For 2018

A Japanese exchange student smiles for the camera as the Japan Club prepares its display.

The Japan Club receives participation from Japanese exchange students as well as domestic students interested in Japanese language and culture.

The University enrolls more than 1,800 international students from 96 countries and has many international student groups.

The groups hosting this year's event are:

  • Afghan Student Organization
  • Alliance of Filipino-American Students
  • Arab Student Association
  • Asian Pacific American Student Association and Korean Student Association
  • Association of Chinese Students and Scholars
  • A Dominican Republic student shows off traditional Dominican drums.

    The Dominican Republic Student Association represents WMU.

    Dominican Student Organization
  • Fulbright Student Organization
  • German Club
  • Indian Student Association
  • Indonesian Student Association
  • Iraqi Student Union
  • Latino Student Alliance
  • Malaysian Students Association
  • Omani Student Association
  • Pakistani Student Association
  • Russian Club
  • Saudi Students Association
  • WMU Japan Club

WMU's International Festival is organized by the Haenicke Institute for Global Education's International Student Activities office and is co-sponsored by the University Cultural Events Committee and Western Student Association. For more information or to volunteer to assist with the event, visit

The Invisible need Project

The Invisible Need Project is a multifaceted initiative to strengthen the culture of giving at WMU by serving students with unmet needs. The project encourages everyone in the campus community to come together to aid students in need. The WMU Food Pantry is just one way that students, faculty and staff can join the effort. Collection sites are located in most campus buildings with the centralized pantry location in the student affairs area of the Faunce Student Services Building. Students are able to "shop" the pantry, open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as often as every two weeks.

Community members looking to make a food donation can email to set up a drop-off.

For directions to campus or a WMU parking map, visit

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit