'Culture Shock' hits Highline Community College

It wasn’t just a fashion statement Thursday at Highline Community College.

It was “Culture Shock.”

That was the name of the Des Moines college’s first cultural fashion show, just one of more than a dozen events this week as Highline joined colleges nationwide in celebrating International Education Week.

Event organizers, including Ania Michnicka of Federal Way, helped put a new spin on the college’s annual fashion event.

“Last year, it was a good fashion show, but this is multi-cultural,” Michnicka said.

A Thomas Jefferson High School alumna, Michnicka is a member of Team Highline, a campus group that promotes activities and student involvement. Team Highline co-produced the show with the college International Leadership Student Council.

A first-generation Polish American, Michnicka said she talked with people from India, Somalia and other countries during the enlightening week. She added that her cultural awareness won’t end when her time at Highline does. Next year, she plans to transfer to the University of Washington to pursue an international business degree.

“I’ve learned a lot about different kinds of cultures. Now, it’s time to get a taste of style,” she said as the show got underway.

Even Highline staff were invited to be part of the event.

Nga Pham of the Education Planning Center wore a yellow dress in the style of her native Vietnam while Siewlai Lilley donned a Malaysian flower print dress.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” Lilley said. “They needed models so we thought ‘What the heck.’”

Other students used the week’s events to bring about awareness of their own cultures and heritage.

Raj Sidhu, 19, a founding member of the new Indian Students Association at Highline, was one of several association members walking the fashion-show runway. Sidhu sported a white, traditional Indian outfit called a “kurta pajama.”

Next month, the association plans to bring in guest speakers and host a dance at the school to raise awareness of India, the world’s second most populous country and a nuclear power.

“After we do this, more people are going to know about (the club),” Sidhu said. “That’s our main focus right now.”

This was the first year for Highline to take part International Education Week events as part of an all-college effort to increase international awareness and understanding, said Kari Coglon Cantey, a college spokeswoman.

Besides the cultural fashion show, the college hosted live Latin American music, an international potluck lunch, and a student round table called “Cultural Cafe” where discussion of national traditions, holidays and cuisine abounded, Cantey said. Students were also able to attend several forums on education opportunities abroad.

International Education Week was set up to focus national attention on global education through overseas study and exposure to other cultures in the United States — issues that have recently gained the attention of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and both houses of Congress.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates