GTIA Night Market: A spark in the dark

Seoulstice take the center stage to wow onlookers. This was one of the many Night Market performances. // Photo by Ashika Srivastava Student Publications

Rows of tables illuminated by twinkling string lights lined the Tech Green walkways as the International Ambassadors at Georgia Tech (GTIA) held their annual Night Market this past Thursday, Nov. 3. Students enjoyed a night of global food, music, performances and activities as they celebrated the diversity of Tech’s student body.

“Georgia Tech has a very diverse community, both with international students, but also second-generation domestic students and just a variety of diverse populations across campus who are domestic students. And so having events where people can come celebrate those differences of culture really communicates a lot about Georgia Tech’s value of that diversity as well as just the different cultures that are present,” said Katie Patton, international student and scholar advisor at the  Office of International Education (OIE).

GTIA aims to foster community within Tech’s international student population through club meetings and various cultural events open to the Tech community.

“We have a lot of events like Night Market. We have the culture showcase in the spring, and there are a lot of events hosted around the year that showcase the culture on campus. Within the club, we have meetings that we attend in which we get to know each other. We’re like kind of a family to each other, so it’s really fun to see the culture on the campus and also to have it in one club,” said AB Alsaeed, second-year ARCH and GTIA member.

During the event, attendees were given “passports” that were stamped as they completed various activities at the booths  in which different booths represented different countries and organizations. 

These passports could be exchanged for unique sweet and savory treats towards the end of the event.

“It’s been really nice. We were here last year, but it’s been better this year, and it felt more organized. It was interesting to visit all these countries, and the whole concept of passports and getting stamps was cool,” said Rehmah Firoz, CRP graduate student.

Jose Avila, fourth-year AE, thoroughly enjoyed all parts of the event, especially visiting the different booths. 

“I’ve had a lot of fun going to all the stalls, doing all the activities and trying to look at all the flags that are hung around to figure out which ones I know,” Avila said. “My favorite [booth] has been the Georgia Tech Spanish Speaking Organization. They had a Jeopardy game about Spanish-speaking countries that was fun.”

The booths were run by several of Tech’s cultural clubs and organizations often looking to bring awareness to their respective cultures.

“Every year, [GTIA] do[es] this event and they ask a bunch of cultural organizations to be a part of it. So I believe we participated in this event last year, and I think it’s just a thing we do every year,” said  Brittany Lu, fourth-year BA and member of the Chinese Student Association. “For our booth, it’s really fun watching people try to guess the Chinese characters, and they’re really into it. It’s nice that we can teach them something that comes out of this.” 

The Office of International Education also operated a booth at the event where they provided interested students with information related to pursuing an education abroad.

“We cover study abroad, international internships and then international student services… What we’re focusing on, is giving out some information for students who want to go global or make their resumes more global as well as International Education Week. That’s coming up November 14 through the 18 in which we have events for the whole week that are global centered,” Patton said.

In addition, members and volunteers from GTIA enjoyed interacting with the attendees and contributing to the event

“Going around and seeing everyone engaging in the event has been fun. And being at the check-in table looking at everyone who comes and interacting with them, even if it’s just a small interaction, it just feels fulfilling that you’re doing something to enrich the culture and the campus,” Alsaeed said.

All in all, the GTIA Night Market proved to be a success as students ended the night with a taste of all the different cultural backgrounds that make up Tech.

“Being an international student myself, I feel like we need people to know more about where we’re coming from and know more about the diversity of cultures and backgrounds they are coming from. Once people find out more about these countries, interacting with people from those cultures is more interesting and fun,” Firoz said.