Women’s International Night Out yields cultural highlights

What looked like a work of art to the average American eye was simple Hindi alphabet to Varada Vaidya and Anupama Haleshappa, who spent Thursday evening educating women on the lifestyle of those in India.

Vaidya offered to write peoples’ names in Hindi, while Haleshappa explained what different rituals in India meant.

The two were part of the second annual Women’s International Night Out, hosted by Global Connections at Minitabon Pine Hall Road. Global Connections is a local nonprofit organization that helps bridge the gap between the public and international cultures.

The event was presented as part of International Education Week, and to raise money for Global Connections, said program coordinator Tamra Fatemi. The goal was to raise more than $5,000 for the organization and introduce new heritages to local women.

“It’s a way for ladies to experience different worldly cultures without ever leaving State College,” Fatemi said.

About a dozen countries were represented Thursday night, and about 130 women attended.

Fatemi said that volunteers with Global Connections from around the world were asked to participate in the event.

Penn State doctoral student Olga Buchko, of Odessa, Ukraine, and now residing in State College, had a table that was all about Ukrainian culture. She was dressed in a red, white and black traditional Ukrainian outfit as she educated women on her country.

“We like beer, we’re romantic and we like to have fun,” she said as she described trinkets and souvenirs from the Ukraine.

Domovoy is a Ukrainian folklore character that is known to bring good luck to the household. She also explained the difference between eastern and western Ukraine. Those in the east speak Russian, while those who live in the west speak Ukrainian, which is a different dialect of the Slavic language.

Other exhibitors from countries such as Iran offered native food and beverages, while others had henna, painting, arts and crafts specific to their countries, such as Turkey.

“It’s a way to form friendships and make the world very small,” said Joy Vincent-Killian, who helped sponsor the event.