Dixie State University’s International Student Services will be hosting the school’s first Mr. Dixie International pageant along with four other international festivities throughout March.
The pageant was first introduced after many male international students expressed interest in participating in a pageant.
Mr. Dixie International will be part of a month of international events in March to promote diversity on campus and build relationships between international and domestic DSU students.
Amber Denning, coordinator of international student life, said there will be an initial meeting in January for any international students wishing to participate in the Mr. Dixie International pageant, but the dates are still to be determined. International Student Services is looking for students who are committed, can represent their country well, and can spark interest in their cultures. International Student Services will conduct personal interviews with potential candidates.
Nicole Aguirre Silva, a sophomore biology major from Lima, Peru, said International Student Services has high expectations for student turnout and participation, particularly for the Mr. Dixie International pageant.
“I’m actually pretty excited for it,” Silva said. “I know a lot of guys want to participate.”
Denning said there will be four other international, student-planned events in March with exact dates to be announced: an international fashion show, a bazaar or international market, a student panel, and an international game day.
“We just want to spread diversity on campus and we want students to be like, ‘Oh, these are real people,’” Denning said. “I think a lot of times students just think of them as international students and they just group them together.”
Depending on the international students who wish to participate, International Student Services is hoping to have all 39 countries that are represented at DSU to be present in the festival. The month of festivities was created with the ultimate goal of celebrating all cultures represented at DSU and to bring people together to promote dialogue, rather than debates, over time.
“We don’t want just a short time to be dedicated to such important things such as internationalization [and] different cultures,” said Catherine Odera, director of International Student Services. “We want people to think about it.”
The month of international festivities is designed as a learning experience not only for domestic DSU students who may have limited exposure to worldwide cultures, but also for the international students who still have a lot to learn about the culture at DSU.
“There are many things about Utah that we don’t understand, so why go read Wikipedia when I can just talk to someone who’s actually from here?” Odera said. “That exchange is better than anything you could ever see on Google or in a textbook.”