A few hundred students, community members and faculty filled the Grand Ballroom in the K-State Student Union for Carpe Diem, an event hosted by International Buddies, on Friday evening.
"This event was a celebration of diversity," said Yasir Ansari, international student support coordinator and co-adviser for International Buddies. "We wanted to get people from everywhere, every kind of background to come to this event. Every nation, every race, every gender — just a wide variety of community to come to this event and have fun together. We wanted people to come together to celebrate their great diversity."
Carpe Diem offered a wide variety of activities for attendees, including many tables that offered henna tattoos, caricatures, airbrush artwork and calligraphy.
"This has been a really great event to be a part of," said Jessica Duncan, whose husband Jacob owns Kansas City Airbrush. "We took orders for about the first 45 minutes of the event, then we played catch up for the following hour and 15 minutes. The students are the best part of this. I mean, they are absolutely tickled pink to get their names on something."
Live performances from different multicultural groups and individuals followed the activities, starting with the Chinese Peacock Dance and the Tibetan dance "Tian Lu." Following that was a Flamenco dance and a street and hip-hop performance.
"I think one of my favorite things was the hip-hop dance at the end," said Erwin Chege, Manhattan resident. "There is so much talent in the area that it makes the dances the best part."
The street and hip-hop performers were all students under the age of 12 from the entertainment company Jigsaw Production LLC in Kansas City, Mo. Zonte Warren, owner of Jigsaw Production, said he was excited that his students got the opportunity to travel to Manhattan and perform at Carpe Diem.
"Overall, I thought their performance was good," Warren said. "People are always learning, even when they’re older. I am proud of them overall. The overall audience reaction seemed as if they were impressed by these kids. Seemed to earn a lot of respect from the audience by my students showing self-confidence and not giving up."
The event was sponsored by many different large businesses within the community and departments within K-State. One of the top supporters of the event was the Diversity Programming Committee, which, through the Student Governing Association, sponsored all of the live performances. Other leading funders were K-State’s Department of Housing and Dining Services, Old Chicago, T-Mobile, Sears, Wal-Mart, Asian Market, Commerce Bank and Chinese Chef.
"There are continuing to be more and more international students at K-State," said Yang Hu, treasurer for International Buddies and senior in accounting. "By sponsoring the event, international students are able to know more about the businesses in the community, as well as the businesses are able to get more customers. It is a benefit for all people involved."
International Buddies is a campus program that pairs local K-State students, staff and community members with international students, scholars and family members. Once paired, buddies meet regularly to learn about each others’ cultures and customs and to explore Manhattan and K-State.
"International Buddies is something that I wish I would have been more involved with while I was here at K-State," said Jordan Fief, senior in milling science and management. "I came to this event because I saw a lot of my friends who are both international and domestic. But I wish I would have been more connected with international students while I was here."
International Buddies marketed the event as beneficial to the K-State 2025 plan, which calls for 100 percent of undergraduate students to have a meaningful international experience. Ansari said he hoped this local event would have a meaningful impact on the students and community members who participated.
"I have this quote at the end of my email that really applies to this event," said Sarah Beebe, co-adviser for International Buddies and administrative assistant for international programs. "It essentially says you have to get out of your box and try new things because you most enjoy the things you never did."
Currently, about 500 students are involved in International Buddies, and about 80 percent of them are international students. For more information, visit k-state.edu/buddies/.
"I hope more students get involved and continue to support International Buddies," Fief said. "I hope that students grab ahold of the opportunities K-State has to offer and get involved in things that are outside of their comfort zone."