Namaste, Trevecca’s club for international students, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.
The club originally began as a place for Trevecca students from across the world to gather together, and it now has members representing 30 different nations.
“The primary purpose of the club is to provide a place for these students to feel comfortable and to have a safe place where they are with other students who are not the norm at TNU,” said Rebecca Merrick, Trevecca’s international student advisor.
One of the club’s primary events is Taste the Nations, a night where students make food from their home countries and share aspects of their culture through song, dance, drama and poetry. The 2017 Taste the Nations event took place on April 7. Over the years, the event has become increasingly popular, a change founder and faculty sponsor Dr. Roy Philip attributes to the shifting views of the world.
“The only reason I can think of is the globalization of culture,” said Philip. “There is a movement to appreciate culture and customs of other countries. I believe the Trevecca community would like to be exposed to different cultures.”
Asia Norman, the president of Namaste, participated by singing the hymn “Blessed Assurance” in Korean and English, as well as singing a Korean gospel song. She says the most challenging part of the program is time management.
“We all love showcasing and sharing our culture on stage with the rest of Trevecca's campus, and we're all having so much fun doing it,” Norman said. “It's hard trying to put what someone grew up their whole life with, what makes them the person they are, into a three-minute showing just so the program can run two hours.”
For Gerda Pagrandyte, a student from Lithuania, says Taste the Nations made her feel like she’s part of a community that understands her experiences.
“Just seeing everyone do their thing and feel pride for their nations is the most enjoyable experience,” Pagrandyte said. “This event reminds me how thankful I am to have friends from different countries and relate to people who have gone through the same journey as me living in America."
Ultimately, the event not only benefits Trevecca’s international community, but also the entire student body, giving them an opportunity to explore parts of the world they may never get to experience.
“We talk about graduating globally minded students, so we need events like this and the International Education Week events to help students experience the global world,” Merrick said. “To experience a night filled with international flare is really Trevecca’s honor. We are truly benefitted to have these students to teach us little pieces of their families’ culture and history, so that we can understand our brothers and sisters in Christ that much better.”