March 28, 2017 by Adriana M. Chavez, NMSU News Center
Gaurav Panwar, a computer science graduate student at New Mexico State University and native of India, hasn’t had many experiences in the U.S. so far, but compares Las Cruces to a “community” rather than a typical city or town.
“Everyone is warm and cordial to each other,” Panwar said. “It is also a sanctuary city, which speaks volumes about the nature of its inhabitants.”
For the past three years, Panwar has been celebrating his native culture and the cultures of other countries at the Las Cruces International Festival. This year, Panwar said, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Las Cruces’ diversity.
“Due to recent and ongoing political measures, it is very important to continue this annual International Festival to show that Las Cruces is a community where everyone is appreciated for who they are and where they are from,” Panwar said. “I have been here for three years and every year so many people turn up for the International Festival to get a glimpse of the countries that these students represent. They are very appreciative and inquisitive about the cultures and traditions and it is heart warming to see people from all walks of life come together to celebrate our differences and likenesses.”
This year’s Las Cruces International Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 8 at Pioneer Women’s Park, 500 W. Las Cruces Ave. The festival is free and open to the public.
The festival offers the NMSU campus and local community an opportunity to experience different cultures from across the globe. Currently, NMSU has more than 1,300 international students from 80 countries on campus, and many of those students are making important contributions to research and the NMSU and Las Cruces communities.
“As it does every year, the Las Cruces International Festival will celebrate these contributions both on campus and across the region,” said Cornell Menking, associate provost for International and Border Programs. “We want people to help us celebrate our diversity and show we care about each other, regardless of political affiliation.”
The festival will include international foods, cultural displays with native art, textiles, artifacts, photographs, music, dancing and games. Participating international students will be dressed in their native fashions.
Panwar said that for the past three years, he’s enjoyed seeing children taking in cultures they’re not familiar with.
“There are always little kids running around excited to see strange and new kind of costumes and pictures and ornaments from other countries, and there are always people who are there to share their experiences from visiting certain countries and reminiscing,” Panwar said. “Every year is a unique and rewarding experience. I would recommend to anyone I could to attend the festival and enjoy this day with us international students.”
For more information, call the International Student and Scholar Services office at 575-646-2017, or visit https://ibp.nmsu.edu/las-cruces-international-festival-2017/.