Artworks hosts international festival

Exchange students and Big Rapids community members celebrate international heritage

Ferris is home to many diverse peoples and cultures from all over the world. With events like Festival of Nations, students work to share the diverse backgrounds they bring to the university.

The Artworks gallery in Big Rapids was host to the Festival of Nations: Family Fun Night on Friday night, in which several foreign exchange students as well as community members participated. Among the countries represented were students from Nigeria, Vietnam, China, Japan and Pakistan.

Hosting her own table was Nawal Braden Swart, owner of the relatively new Big Rapids eatery “Nawal’s Mediterranean Eatery” representing her home country of Egypt.

The idea of holding a Festival of Nations in Big Rapids has been one resonating in the mind of Tara Braun, Ferris’s International Exchange Manager, for quite some time.

“It’s something I thought of doing a few years ago,” Braun said, “but I had no idea how to go about it. This year I got the opportunity to apply for a grant, which I did receive, and I decided this was the year I was going to put it on.”

At each table, students displayed a variety of items from their home country.

At Japan’s table the students wore kimonos, robes worn by Japanese women to signify a special occasion. China’s table gave the opportunity to have one’s name written in Chinese characters and attempt to create an origami swan out of construction paper. Swart served pita chips and hummus, a traditional Mediterranean snack, at Egypt’s table and put a collection of Egyptian plates and jewelry on display.

“I think this activity is really beneficial because it’s fun but educational at the same time,” Braun said. “And there’s a lot going on throughout the month to really bring together the international students and the Ferris community.”

The events for Festival of Nations will continue throughout October and run until November. For more information on the Festival of Nations, see the event calendar at