Mississippi College

International Festival at Mississippi College Celebrates Cultures

March 7, 2014

Nigeria was colonized by the British in the late 19th Century and by the 1890s was home to the world’s largest slave population.

Times have changed in the early 21st Century for the West African nation of more than 168 million people. Still, English remains the major medium of communication since Nigeria was colonized by the British.

A 30-year-old business graduate student at Mississippi College, Oladele Afolabi wants classmates, faculty and staff on the Clinton campus to know much more about his native Nigeria of the present day. The country borders Chad and Cameroon to the east and the Republic of Benin to the west.

To help people gain a better understanding of Nigeria’s culture, Oladele will be part of a fashion show at the 7th annual International Festival at Swor Auditorium on April 4. On the Clinton campus runway, he will wear a traditional costume that cuts across the attire worn by Nigeria’s three major tribes.

“People wear it occasionally, probably at wedding ceremonies or other major events. The rich tend to wear it as often as they wish,” says the graduate of the University of Lagos in Nigeria.

Studying finance at Mississippi College, Oladele worked as an accountant for three years. He wants to become a financial analyst.

One of more than 250 international students at Mississippi College, Oladele wants to use the International Festival as a forum to spotlight the success stories, the history and diverse cultures of the 26 nations represented on the Clinton campus. The bulk of the international students come from China.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the two-hour festival is sponsored by the Mississippi College Office of Global Education. Open to the public, the program will also feature instrumental and vocal performances as well as dance groups.

One of the performers on the Swor stage in Nelson Hall will be MC international student Ali Dehghannezhad, a 21-year-old a native of Iran. He’s studying English in the IEP program, and plans to transfer to the MC School of Law in Jackson in the fall.

So far, Ali has enjoyed his stay at Mississippi College, from his residence hall to the Chinese New Year’s party and the many friendships he’s built.

“When I came here, I was shocked by the friendly atmosphere and kind attitudes toward me,” Ali said in a story appearing in “The Mississippi Collegian” in early March.

Oladele Afolabi is equally elated to be part of the Mississippi College family.

“Basically, my experience at MC has been awesome, with friendly people around me,” Oladele said.

A resident of west Nigeria, Oladele speaks Yoruba. But with his experience in the Magnolia State so rewarding, he’s learning to understand thick Southern accents, too.

Following the Friday evening festival, audience members are invited to a reception in the Nelson Hall lobby to meet the performers and sample international foods. Student tickets are $3 prior to the event and $5 at the door. Tickets for faculty, staff and members of the metro Jackson community cost $5 prior to the show and $7 at the door.

For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, contact Brittany Perrotta of the Office of Global Education at perrotta@mc.edu.

Photo: Mississippi College international student Oladele "Joseph'' Afolabi (second from left) and others showing off their attire from Nigeria.

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