For seven days, the world was in our backyard – literally. International Week [I-Week], sponsored by the Council of International Student Organizations [COISO], made the UC Patio center stage for traditional Caribbean costumes, salsa dancing, handcrafts and cuisine from all over the globe.

During the series of events, themed “Seven Wonders of the World,” students had the opportunity to sample traditional food – everything from American hot dogs during Hometown USA to Ethiopian dishes on Africa Day – and experience the diversity of many cultures on campus.

“I love it. The culture, the free food – I even got a Hindu tattoo last week,” Georgia Fisher, junior, said. “It’s great to get the experience on campus; you don’t even have to go anywhere.”

On Latin Day, colorful stands were crowded with students lining up to grab free Cuban and Nicaraguan pastries, while members of Salsa Craze and other students danced to a variety of rhythmic Latin music.

“The food is good. They have almost everything,” Milushka Pujol, junior, said. “But I just wish they had promoted the event more, so more countries would be represented here, and the countries without associations could have had food stands, too.”

During Caribbean Day, the atmosphere was festive, colorful and energetic. A parade of students dressed in traditional, colorful costumes proudly waved their flags and danced to the soulful and energetic sounds of Caribbean music.

“This is the best day I’ve seen – it’s my favorite,” Melanie Griffith, junior, said. “Last year was good, but this year is better. It truly went beyond everything done before.”

Rainy weather caused some inconveniences the first couple days of I-Week. Despite the inclement weather, however, I-Week events continued during Hometown USA, One Night of Asia and Middle Eastern Day.

“I am very proud of all the organizations who pulled together to make their events amazing,” Kelsi Mercado, I-Week chair, said. “When it rained they quickly picked up their entire thing and simply moved their event [inside] the UC.”

“I was extremely overwhelmed with joy at the cultural displays out there all week, and particularly touched by the fraternal spirit among all the clubs,” Cristina Florez, COISO advisor, said. “They came together and fought all obstacles to make sure this I-Week topped all others.”

I-week concluded its festivities with Pacific Night last Friday and a banquet at the Crowne Plaza on Saturday, where the winners of all I-Week categories were announced. The African Student Union won Best Dish for their Ethiopian dishes. Best Night was awarded to Pacific Night, while Best Day went to Caribbean Day.

For more information about other COISO events, visit www.coiso.com.

Vanessa Krause can be contacted at v.krause@umiami.edu.