Fashion show showcases Thai culture during International Education Week

Submitted photo.

Mariam Makatsaria

The Thai Fashion Show presented not only traditional Thai garments and jewelry, but also a taste of Thai cuisine, music and even a folk dance routine Wednesday evening.

The event, which took place in the third floor faculty lounge of Henderson Hall from 12:30 to 2 p.m., was a part of International Education Week hosted by Kent State’s Office of Global Education.

“I think it’s good for both faculty and students so that each of us can be exposed to a different culture,” said Ratchneewan Ross, associate professor at the College of Nursing and director of international activities. “It brings people from different cultures together so that they can learn the Thai culture this year. I’m planning to do another culture next year.”

Ross, with the help of five international students, coordinated the entire event – from the display of different Thai traditional dress styles to the Thai music that played in the background.

“An important part of (the show), besides having people understand other people’s cultures, is having my students learn how to organize an event,” Ross said. “I believe that it could probably teach them things that they don’t learn in a traditional classroom. I want them to study hard, but I also tell them that they can get more out of their studies by participating in activities so that their mind, skills and knowledge will be broadened.”

Ross discussed some Buddhist beliefs, such as the practice of freeing turtles for merit-making and increasing future good fortunes. Posters around the room displayed images and information about different Thai festivals, including the Songkran festival that is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day in April.

“I’m really excited about (the event),” said Sureeporn Suwannaosod, a graduate nursing student who helped organize the event. “We talked together about what we should present about our culture and thought that what we have different from here is the traditional Thai new year. That’s why we chose the Songkran festival.”

Scarfs, crocheted tablecloths, handmade Thai purses and dresses made out of Thai silk were on display. The Thai fashion show also offered students samples of Thai sticky rice with egg custard, as well as Thai tea and fresh fruit served in a carved melon basket.

Chutarat Akkarawongvisit, graduate nursing student, sat hunched over a plate of vegetables, meticulously carving leaves out of cucumbers and carrots. An hour later, she was surrounded by students as she taught them how to peel a thin strip around tomatoes and fold them into rose garnishes.

Akkarawongvisit said that the taste of a meal and its presentation are equally important. “(Food) is not only about the taste,” she said. “It’s about what it looks like too. I love decorating food. When you are cutting you need to concentrate, so it helps me relax and it relieves stress.”

By the end of the event, students lined up in a formation as they mimicked Ross’ Thai folk dance moves to the music.

“I would definitely come again next year if I didn’t have to graduate,” said Laura Sellars, senior nursing major who came to the event with her friend Elysia Yarian. Both students said that their favorite part of the event was learning how to cut vegetables into plate decorations.

“In the Kent State community, if we learn about other people’s attitudes, activities, culture and beliefs, I believe that it will help us live together more mutually and peacefully,” Ross said.

Contact Mariam Makatsaria at [email protected].