Eve of Nations Returns April 8, Celebrates 50th Anniversary
It’s an evening unlike any other at the University of Oklahoma: first a crowd gathers in the Lloyd Noble center for a three-course international meal, the delicious smells wafting throughout the cavernous space. Next, students stride confidently across the stage to a pulsing soundtrack, modeling traditional fashions representing a diverse array of cultures. And finally, the audience is treated to performances from international student organizations — many of these are rooted in dance, but past acts have also integrated music performances, visual art and even calligraphy. It’s a true explosion of creativity and a convergence of cultures, and it’s called the Eve of Nations.
Eve of Nations is Oklahoma’s largest multicultural showcase featuring the dance, music and fashion of more than 80 countries. It is organized by the International Advisory Committee (IAC), an executive student body representing international student organizations whose goal is to increase awareness of and unity within OU’s international community. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the event has been suspended for the past two years, and it has been greatly missed by international students and community members alike.
A Post-Pandemic Rebirth
On Friday, April 8, Eve of Nations will return, marking a joyous occasion for international students who have survived a tumultuous past few years. The theme for this year’s showcase is the Golden Renaissance, a nod to an impressive milestone: the Eve of Nations and its parent organization, the IAC, are both celebrating their 50th year of operation at the University of Oklahoma.
“After two years of COVID and not having Eve of Nations, we see this as a rebirth after coming out of so many struggles our countries have faced over the last two years, and some are still facing right now,” explains senior accounting BA/MA student Peace Mojekwu, the president of IAC and this year’s event organizer. “I’m really, really excited for it and to see a lot of organizations come to life…it is going to be a very refreshing moment for everyone to celebrate how far we’ve come and where we are going.”
This year’s program will follow Eve of Nations traditions, featuring a fashion show and performances from student organizations that create the sense of a “trip around the world,” according to Mojekwu. Attendees can purchase a ticket that includes a 6 p.m. three-course dinner or buy a less expensive ticket just for the 7 p.m. show. "We are so excited that Eve of Nations is back and thrilled to welcome staff, students, faculty and members of the community for the 50th edition of this wonderful event," says Rebecca Cruise, OU College of International Studies Associate Dean for Student Services. "This event is particularly special because it is organized and put on by OU's international students, centering their voices and aspects of their cultures on their terms."
Connection to Cultural Heritage
As it is entirely student-run, the event requires participation from many international students, both on and off stage. Amari Williams, a first-year student who signed up to represent Jamaica in the fashion show, is one of this year's enthusiastic participants. “Any opportunity that arises for me to represent a country that’s dear to me is important, so I jumped on this opportunity,” she explains.
Likewise, Hasti Khalilkhani, another fashion show participant, signed up for her first Eve of Nations to feel closer to her home country of Iran. “For me, I haven’t been home in a year now, and it’s just to stay connected to my culture,” she says. “Some people don’t know about Iran and how it is, and it’s a really big culture, so I thought this would be a cool opportunity for me to do something concrete and highlight that.” Khalilkhani notes that her older sister also attended OU and participated in a past Eve of Nations: “That was kind of an inspiration for me to join as well because it was a great memory to her.”
Zuyyin Izza Mohamed Shiraj, a first-year from Singapore, serves on the IAC executive board and is working on the event behind the scenes. Eve of Nations interested her initially because it reminded her of programs hosted by the United World College international high school she attended. “It’s just a good way to show the diversity that is all over OU’s campus,” she says. “A lot of students are made to feel ostracized or misjudged when they show their culture in the U.S. Here [at Eve of Nations], we proudly show that even if you judge us, we’re just going to be us and show our cultures. And it’s an amazing program.”
Beauty and Joy in Diversity
Mojekwu, who is from Nigeria, had her first experience with Eve of Nations in 2019, when she worked on sponsorships and helped backstage with that spring’s program, Shades in Unity. In spring 2019, shortly after Mojekwu started at OU, a rise in racist incidents shook the OU community and left many students feeling alienated. For Mojekwu, working on Eve of Nations was a way to find joy in the international community at that difficult time. “Organizing Eve of Nations and seeing how highly everyone enjoyed it reminded me of beauty and diversity — I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true,” she says. “When many different people come together, it is so beautiful. And I hope that’s what it will be this time around, just celebrating who we are regardless of backgrounds or ideologies that we might hold.”
You won’t want to miss this year’s Eve of Nations, which is open to the public! See details below.
To purchase tickets, visit bit.ly/EON50
The 50th Eve of Nations: The Golden Renaissance
When: April 8, 2022 at 6 p.m. (dinner), show starts at 7 p.m.
Where: Lloyd Noble Center, 2900 Jenkins Ave., Norman OK 73019
Cost: Show Only – $9 student/$12 public
Dinner + Show – $18 student/$25 public
*Discounts available for those who purchase a group of 8 tickets (one table)*