InterNation Celebration returns for fourth go-around

Andy Monserud

The Beyond Borders Club partnered with the Intercultural Center and ASWC to host the fourth-annual InterNation Celebration in the Reid Young Ballroom on Saturday, Feb. 7. The celebration, preceded by an international dinner in Prentiss Dining Hall, featured a series of performances inspired by various cultures around the world.

The celebration, emceed by seniors Mcebo “MC” Maziya and BBC member Lydia Loopesko, included an international fashion show as well as 15 other performances, largely songs and dances, that ranged in tone from campy to awe-inspiring. Students from 12 different countries (including the United States) performed.

The InterNation Celebration emerged four years ago from an “International Feast” in Jewett Hall which combined dinner and a show into a single event. Since then it has quickly established itself as a major part of the Whitman calendar, and not only for students. Adult community members and their families made up a major portion of attendance at this year’s event.

Preparations for the Celebration begin early in the school year for BBC.

“We start thinking about it at the beginning of first semester, and then we start planning towards the end of the semester,” sophomore BBC Secretary Yuridia Ramos said. “Usually we have a list by the end of the semester, and then by the beginning of the second semester we confirm with them if they want to participate.”

Sophomore BBC President Wenjun Gao first joined the club in the wake of last year’s celebration. This year she served as director for the event. She ran into a few hitches in planning, most notably a constantly-shifting roster of performers.

“I had 18 groups of people sign up at the end of last semester, and at the start of this semester people [told] me that they couldn’t do it anymore because of academic struggles or because of their partner not doing it anymore,” Gao said. “We were really stressed out.”

Two performers dropped out the day of the event due to illness, and Gao, Loopesko and other members of BBC found themselves scrambling to adjust. Still, the event itself went off largely without a hitch.

“I was totally not sure what it was going to be like, but I’m really glad I came,” first-year Megan Gleason said. “It was pretty amazing.”

The event was also well-attended, which pleasantly surprised Gao.

“I was amazed, actually, because there were 300 seats and they were all taken,” she said. “People were even standing at the back.”

Loopesko, who spoke in an exaggerated French accent throughout the celebration, said that the emcee duties she shared with Maziya were largely unaffected by last-minute change-ups.

“Very little of [the emcee banter]” was scripted, she said. “MC and I met half an hour before the show and had some bare-bones ideas. Those ideas were basically the extent of it that was scripted, nothing else.”

Loopesko was also pleased with the event’s execution, saying that it follows a trend of improvement over the past four years.

“It’s kind of had an upward curve,” she said. “Our freshman year… wasn’t very organized because it was the first time we were doing it and we didn’t know what we were doing, and it’s just gotten a lot better since then. More people are involved, more people show up, and people kind of know about it, know what to expect.”