Office of International Education Set to Host Festival of Nations, Beginning Oct. 18

Festival of NationsThe Festival of Nations at Ferris State University will celebrate diversity with three weeks of events that kick off Friday, Oct. 18 on campus and throughout the Big Rapids community.

The festival, hosted by the university’s Office of International Education, is an invitation “to discover another culture and gain a broader perspective of the world,” said international admissions coordinator Tara Braun.

“There is a strong desire within the community to discover international culture from our students, and our students are eager to learn American culture,” said Braun, who was awarded an Exceptional Merit Grant from The Ferris Foundation earlier this year to fund the collaborative event. “This celebration will bring the community and students together and provide that learning opportunity in a comfortable setting.”

In her grant proposal, Braun said it is important to showcase the area’s “growing diversity to educate and determine how to appreciate the differences of others.” The Festival of Nations provides educational and cultural events that do just that.

Highlighting the festival is “Beyond: Mythologies,” a thought-provoking exhibit that allows participants to explore the world’s great myths and how they influence culture today. The free event will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20 in the Interdisciplinary Resource Center corridor.

The event is part of “Beyond,” an initiative sponsored by the Center for Global Studies and Engagement to encourage global engagement at Ferris by integrating an international theme into the curriculum and co-curricular activities.

Also shaping up to be one of the festival’s highlights is the Community vs. International soccer games beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. Registration is open for the mini-tournament planned at the Big Rapids Industrial Field (register here).

“It’s creating quite the excitement around town,” Braun said. “Soccer is an international sport, and normally there are not opportunities for the international students to play against community members. The response has been very good, and President (David) Eisler will be doing the kickoff for the games.”

In addition to events, all of which are free and open to the public, the Festival of Nations will spotlight a downtown business as the International Business of the Day. During the course of the festival, several businesses will host a student to job shadow for a day. Each business will post a sign that identifies it as an “international business.”

“It will be a good experience for international students, because they will be able to see the inside of an American business,” Braun said. “It’s a great opportunity for the students and business owners to have the exposure, and that’s what the Festival of Nations is all about.”

Following is the schedule of events:

Wine and Art: International Painting Class

When: 7-9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 at Artworks, Lower Level

What: Participants can bring their favorite wine and a snack to share while creating an internationally themed painting. Must be 21 years old or older to participate. Cost is $40.

Oaxacan Walking Stick Make and Take

When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Artworks, Upper Level

What: Participants can create a walking stick using Oaxacan colors and patterns. All materials will be provided for the free event.

“Beyond: Mythologies”

When: 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, IRC Connector

What: Free exhibit featuring global myths and how they influence the modern world.

Researching Your International Family History

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, IRC Room 109

What: Free event hosted by the Mecosta County Genealogical Society.

International Family Fun Night

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, Artworks, Lower Level

What: International students will highlight their cultural traditions, art, games and more in a festival atmosphere. Free.

Community vs. International soccer games

When: 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, Big Rapids Industrial Park Field

What: Soccer tournament featuring teams of international students and community members. Free.

Salsa Dancing Lessons

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, Artworks

Cost: Learn to salsa at this free event sponsored by Ferris’ Center for Latin@ Studies and Artworks.

“El Salvador”

When: 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, IRC Room 104

What: Social Work majors Kaylee Moreno and Maria Hernandez will discuss their recent participation in the Social Work Study Abroad program and its impact on their lives. Open discussion.


When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31 through Saturday, Nov. 2 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, Williams Auditorium

What: The Ferris State University Theatre Group will present the English musical comedy based on the classic 1975 film “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.” Intended for adult audiences.  Call (231) 591-5600 or visit, here, for ticket information.

Book Discussion: “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid

When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, Artworks, Second Floor

What: Discussion of the 2007 novel by the Pakistani author. Free. The book can be purchased at the university bookstore and Great Lakes Book and Supply.

Japanese Flower Arranging

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, Patterson’s Flowers

What: Participants can discover the art of “Ikebana” by creating an arrangement that brings nature and humanity together. Cost is $25; register by Wednesday, Oct. 30 by calling (231) 796-8683.

International Music Night and Closing Reception

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, Artworks

What: Music by the Celtic group Balefire and Saudi Arabian, American and Chinese students. Pen Dragon, an international calligraphy group, will be available to create calligraphy pieces. The free event is sponsored by Artworks, Ferris, Nawal’s Mediterranean Eatery and Pen Dragon.

For more information on the Festival of Nations, visit the Office of International Education website, here, or email Braun at

The event’s Facebook page, here, includes a gallery of photos and event information.

Last updated: 04-07-2015