Most Viewed Stories
AWC dinner show to highlight campus talent
Pianists, singers, dancers and speakers from around the globe will display their talents during a multicultural dinner theater at Arizona Western College.
The annual event, “What a Wonderful World,” will be held March 8, thanks to a collaboration between the campus' Student Government Association and the International Student Club.
Ken Kuntzelman, the college's director of international programs, said in addition to students and faculty showcasing their talents, there will be a fashion show presenting outfits from around the world, an international meal serving dishes like baklava and falafel and a silent auction of student art.
“It's going to be a great evening of entertainment. We're not professionals, though, we're students and faculty. Don't expect Broadway theater,” he said with a laugh. “But nonetheless, they're very talented and I know it's a very entertaining evening and will show how diverse our campus and our community are.”
Kuntzelman said a highlight of the evening will be a “Pirates of the Caribbean” piano piece played by campus police officer Caryl Thompson.
“He is nothing short of incredible ... It is quite a challenging piece. It's all over the keyboard, fingers are flying and it's really amazing.”
Other highlights will be international student Jhamiel Robles Phan, from the Philippines, who will be singing “What the “World Needs Now”; AWC math professor Reetika Dhawan performing a dance called bhangra in traditional attire from India; a group of students from Vietnam singing “Picture of the Countryside”; and AWC history professor Steven DeDecker singing “Why?,” an original song about Sandy Hook tragedy; and much more.
Kuntzelman explained that while past events have specifically featured international students, this year the show was opened up to faculty and students from the U.S. as well since there is so much talent on campus.
The title subtext of the show was previously “Talent from Distant Shores.”
“We're now talking about the shores of Detroit, Chicago or wherever,” he said.
“We're still focusing on a multicultural point of view, though some of our performers will be much more closer to home than they have been ... Our show is now focusing more on the celebration of cultural diversity within our community than just students from abroad.”
Also a factor in the reduced amount of international students in the show, he said, is that AWC has half the enrollment of international students from two years ago, down to about 45 students from 20 countries. He said that is most likely due to budget constraints and restricted international travel.
“I built this program by direct recruitment with high schools and parents in various countries,” Kuntzelman said. “Without the personal connection, we must compete with thousands of U.S. schools through advertising and online recruitment, but this is both more costly and less effective.”
Kuntzelman added that international students have brought in about $2.5 billion into Arizona every year, and AWC's brought more than $500,000 to the college at their peak.
“On a global scale, we are competing with Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia for international students. These countries offer more employment opportunities and easier pathways to immigration.”
Beyond the economics of it, though, said Kuntzelman, international students bring an active global perspective to AWC's campus and the Yuma community.
“They are generally high academic achievers who enliven our classrooms. Highly prepared and motivated to succeed, they contribute much as tutors, research assistants, and honors students raising the bar in math and science competitions ... Bringing their cultures and traditions to the community expands knowledge and promotes cross-cultural understanding for our local students, a vital competency for individuals preparing careers in today's global economy.”
The international talent show will begin at 6 p.m. in the 3C Schoening Conference Center on AWC's main campus, 2020 S. Avenue 8E. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. as seating is first-come, first-served.
Tickets are currently on sale at the campus cashier located on the top floor of the 3C building. Prices are $35 for general admission; $25 for faculty, seniors and military; $15 for students and children.
For more information about tickets, which will also be sold at the door, call AWC coordinator of student leadership Shara Roberts at 317-7611.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.