Students from the Travel Cultures and International Business classes created booths at the AIB Activities Center representing more than three dozen countries. Many students dressed in traditional garb from other countries, offering information about the native cultures and samples of the local cuisine.
The festival was an idea of Business Administration Professor Gregg Johnson, who wanted to give his students an opporunity to see that despite outside trappings and differences, people around the world are the same inside.
"When I watched families from around the world at a swimming pool at a Mexican resort, they were doing the same types of things I was doing. They were having fun. They were playing with their kids," said Johnson.
Johnson said he hopes the festival was enjoyed by visitors, but he feels the larger impact may be on students like Banhleuxai, Douangmany , and Somphanthabansouk as they researched their selected country.
"It's the student who has to go home and reconnect with his or her grandmother who came from Germany," he said. "They start talking about why Grandma came here and what it was like living in Germany.
"It's the students who want to serve a food from Australia, and they can't find it, so they order it over the Internet."
Johnson recalled one student who reported wandering the aisles of a Des Moines Vietnamese market. Bewildered and unable to read anything, the student reached out to the market staff for assistance in completing the project.
"That's the kind of stuff I love to hear," Johnson said. "The students feel like they're in a different world, but they're in their own country."
AIB is committed to helping its students adapt and thrive in the global economy. The college's Business Administration and International Business associate degree gives students the preparation to work abroad or in international departments within domestic companies. Their appreciation of worldwide diversity is enhanced through the study of cultural customs.
Practical experience comes from the International Business Practicum. It is a course that offers the opportunity to be immersed in another country for seven to nine days. The class has traveled to Ireland, England and Italy.
All three students are earning Associate in Applied Science degrees in the Business Administration program.