Diwali Pre-Event Article – An Outsider’s View

written by Irenitemi Famadewa

I remember, about four years ago, during my freshman year at Penn State Harrisburg, I had the amazing opportunity to be able to experience the beauty and joy of a cultural celebration that was new to me. Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is a Hindu holiday that is celebrated in India, Pakistan, Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

My first Diwali, in Fall of 2014, was such a new experience for me. That year, I was invited to be a fashion show judge for the show. I remember getting ready to wear my first Sari (a traditional female garment that involves a lot of draping). The Sari I was lent was SIX YARDS long! I was so confused as to how to magically turn the fabric into the beautiful outfits the other girls had on. Luckily, I had the help of an amazing group of experienced Indian girls that made me ready for Diwali. Then I headed up to event and was amazed at the performances, the music, and the awesome food!

  • Consulting with Marcel, a former GA from Germany, about the fashion show.

Fast-forward two years to Diwali 2016. The Diwali celebration had grown even bigger at this time. In 2016, the event had over 300 attendees and multiple performances ranging from dance performances, musical renditions, a fashion show and good food as always. The student center sparkled with lights and brightly colored decorations that really captured the festival of lights. Last year, I had the great opportunity to participate in the Diwali fashion show where I wore yet another Sari with the help of my friend Taanushree and Nishi, two international students from India. The Fashion show participants were from all over the world. Each participant strutted down runway confidently because of how great the colors of the traditional outfits made them look and feel. It was a great experience of cultural bonding that showed that regardless of cultural background, the language of celebration is universal across cultures.

  • Traditional instrumental performance.

Looking back, as I prepare for my last Diwali as an undergraduate student, I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to the wonderful students, faculty, and community volunteers who have shared this part of their culture with me. Now, equipped with my very own Lehenga (a traditional India outfit), and a pair of Jumka earrings, I am ready to once again celebrate the festival of lights! I hope I see you all at our Diwali celebration, October 20th, from 6-9 pm at the Student Center. The event will be hosted by four Global Ambassadors: Pravallika Sanke, Ever Barillas, Tomi Famadewa, and Manasi Sathe.

Meaningful, Delightful, and Bright

Meaningful, Delightful, and Bright

– Moon Festival 2017 Pre-event Essay by Francesca Angeles

Every year, most countries in East Asia celebrate the Moon Festival – a mid-Autumn, harvest, and thanksgiving celebration held on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Lunar Calendar. From the name itself, we can tell that this festival is celebrated with a full moon watching over everyone but it’s actually more than that. It’s a meaningful, delightful, and bright event that brings together families even from different ends of the world. The Moon Festival, also known as the Harvest Festival, is mostly celebrated in countries and regions such as China, Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan, but the festivity is growing as people from different countries also observe the Moon Festival even though they are miles away from their homeland.

In a world where geographical boundaries are surpassed by the growing accessibility to travel, it is inevitable for us to see the Moon Festival celebrated all-throughout the world. I interviewed Dr. John Haddad from the School of Humanities and found that he used to live in China and Hong Kong for a total of three years, and he has found meaning in the Moon Festival as this celebration brought together families over a thoughtful festivity. The over 3,000-year Moon Festival tradition is meaningful because it served as a holiday with staying power – so much has become modern but this celebration brings a primal and ancient appeal that reminds us of why we give thanks to the blessings that the universe has showered us. In this day and age, the Moon Festival is observed by many individuals and groups around the world.

Professor Jingjing Cai, also from the School of Humanities, gave insight on the Moon Festival and why it remained a delightful event. As a foodie, her best memory of the Moon Festival is the moon cake. Besides being a delicious Chinese delicacy, its round shape also symbolizes the reunion of families. Eating moon cakes under a full moon easily reminds people of how much they value and long for their families and friends especially during this celebration. The taste of the moon cake is just as delightful as the thought that it brings to those who are reminded of their families during the Moon Festival.

I also talked to one of our fellow Penn State students, Evelyn Bai, who gave her personal insight on the celebration. As an international student, she has not celebrated the Moon Festival with her family for years now and it is really heartwarming to have our Penn State community celebrate the Moon Festival altogether. I love how Evelyn pointed out how the moon serves as the bright light that reminds people of the memories they have shared with their families when they were younger.

A lot of us came from different countries with different cultures and from different walks of life but the idea of thanksgiving and reunion somehow unites everyone especially those who are away from their families. The Moon Festival may be a Chinese festivity but it has become a universal celebration where we can all share a part of ourselves to others so we can make them feel that Penn State is a home away from home.

See you on the 6th of October from 6:00 to 9:00 in the evening at the CUB Student Center for the annual Moon Festival celebration! Four students, Francesca Angeles, Gexi Guo, Mizuki Yamane and Yukun Yuan, will host the evening program. The event is sponsored by Penn State Harrisburg Global Ambassador Program and the Chinese Student Association.

May we connect more people together and bridge friendships in this awaited event!


International Panel Discussion – First Event of the Semester

  • International Panel Discussion Panelists
Welcome new students, old students, and faculty and staff!!!

On behalf of the Global Ambassador program, I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who attended the International Panel Discussion held on August 31st, 2017.

Professor Mohammad Ali, Assistant Professor in Management

The panel discussion was the first Global Ambassador event of the semester and we were pleased to have three professors join three of our outstanding Global Ambassadors on our panel. Our first panelist, Professor Mohammad Ali, from Pakistan is an Assistant Professor of Management. He came to the US to pursue his masters in the early 2000’s. He was able to give a fresh perspective as a professor but also as a former international student.

Associate Professor of Education, Behavioral Sciences and Education

Our second panelist was Dr. Martha Strickland, an Associate Professor of Education. She has taught English in several nations across Africa and Asia. It was a pleasure having her join the panel this semester as she was able to give international students a professor’s view on common problems they face in the classroom.

Siddhi Patel, Global Ambassador from India

We also had Siddhi Patel, a graduate student and Global Ambassador from India who was able to share her unique perspective on successfully completing a dual degree as an international student.

Tosin Adeyemo, Global Ambassador from India

 We also had Oluwatosin (Tosin)Adeyemo, a graduate student and Global Ambassador from Nigeria who was able to give advise to students pursuing a STEM degree. Additionally, we had  Ye Zhang, an undergraduate from China studying Finance and Accounting who was able to give advise to undergraduate students on the various resources the campus has to offer.

Ye Zhang, Global Ambassador from China

During the discussion, new students were eager to ask questions about changes in education, culture, and social life in the United States compared to their home countries.

Our panelists also shared their stories and encouraged all the students to have an open mind and to never be afraid to ask questions. One common advice the panelists gave was that students should always remember what brought them to Penn State Harrisburg in the first place and to never lose sight of the purpose. Overall, it was an amazing event! Special thanks to all the Global Ambassadors that came out to volunteer for the event. For information about our upcoming events, please check out our Events Calendar.


Throwback – World Fest 2016

by Irenitemi Famadewa

As we head over to the fall 2017 semester, we would like to look back at one the most exciting events of Fall 2016, the World Fest. The World Fest is a bi-annual event hosted by the Global Ambassadors and the International Affairs Association / Rotaract Club. The event is a showcase of the over 50 different countries represented in the Penn State Harrisburg community. The event started with a display board showcase of 50 different countries put together by students, faculty and staff. Each attendee was given a passport and had the opportunity to have that passport stamped at every display board they visited. The event ended with a parade of nations and an amazing array of cultural performances in the newly built Student Enrichment Center. To view more images from this event check out our Facebook Page and Flickr page 












Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Shared by Irenitemi Famadewa


4 Cups Easy Cook Rice

6 Medium Red Bell Peppers

2 Habanero Peppers

120g (1 small can) Tomato Paste

2 Whole Onions

6 Tablespoons Cooking Oil

2 Cups Chicken, Beef or Vegetable Stock (Water works as well)

½ Teaspoon Thyme and Curry Powder (Optional)

3 – 4 Knorr Chicken Cubes

2 Teaspoons White pepper (Optional)

Salt to Taste


Cut 1 onion into quarters and place into a blender. Blend until paste like.

Add the red bell peppers and habanero to the paste and blend thoroughly.

Pour the blended mixture into a large pot and boil until all the water from the mixture is completely evaporated and the mixture becomes paste like.

Transfer the paste and put aside.

Chop the second onion into thin slices.

Pour the cooking oil in the pot and pour the sliced onions once the oil heats up.

Let the onions fry until fragrant (for about 1 or 2 minutes)

Add the pepper paste, tomato paste, 3 knorr cubes, 1 teaspoon of white pepper, thyme and curry powder to the pot and let it fry till the oil begins to float to the top (make sure to stir to prevent it from burning). This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the paste is frying, wash your rice thoroughly till the water is almost clear and the starch is removed. Boil for 5 to 8 min. The rice should still be firm and not soft. Drain the rice and set aside.

Once the paste is done frying and the oil floats to the top, add the stock or water to the mixture. Cover and let it boil for a further 8 – 10 minutes. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed.

Add the boiled rice into the mixture and stir until the rice is completely covered by the sauce.

Add the remaining teaspoon of white pepper.

Cover and let it cook till the rice is soft enough. Occasionally stir with a wooden spoon (this prevents clumps), and add more stock or water if necessary. Don’t worry if the rice burns a little at the bottom.

Serve hot with a side of chicken or meat and fried plantains.

Mediterranean Zucchini and Chickpea Salad

Shared by Joseph Marshall


2 cups diced zucchini

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

¾ cup chopped red bell pepper

½ cup chopped sweet onion

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup chopped Kalamata Olives

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

¼ cup red balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic

1 red pepper, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper to taste.


Mix zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, feta, Kalamata olives, olive oil, basil, vinegar, rosemary, capers, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper together in a large bowl.

Cooking and Craft Event – July 14, 2017

The annual Cooking and Craft event was hosted this year at Anna Marshall’s home. Many faculty, staff, students and community volunteers came together to share dishes from their cultures and spend time with each other.

Attendees: Vanshika Agarwal, Vanshika’s Mom, Faisal Azim, Manoor Azim, Aman Azim, Dr. Anthony Buccitelli, Irenitemi Famadewa, Tomi Famadewa, Nakjun (Kevin) Jeong; Wenhong Luo (a visiting scholar), Anna Marshall, Jim Marshall, Joseph Marshall, Rayna Marshall, Carol Mellott, Amanda Moore, Chubo (Tony) Peng, Tony’s Mom, Eun-sil Yoo, Eun-sil’s husband, and their baby girl, and Fang Zhang

Dishes cooked: Nigerian Rice (by Temi and Tomi); Grilled chicken and vegetable sticks (by Jim); Indian Curry Chicken, Chili Soup, and Baked Beans (by Anna); Summer Pesto Pasta (by Rayna); Brownies, Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, Peanut butter cookies, and Mediterranean Zucchini and Chickpea Salad (by Joseph); Pani Puri (by Vanshika); Sweet & Sour Ribs (by Wenhong); Brownies (Carol); and Dumplings and Spicy Noodles (by Fang).

Dumplings – Chinese Recipe



Shared by Anna Marshall


Dumplings skins (3-4 bags from Asian Grocery Store; about 50 dumpling wrappers in one bag)

1 regular cabbage or 2 small cabbages, chopped thin using the food processor

1.5-2 lbs. ground turkey

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. ginger and garlic paste

1 tbsp. chilly sauce

1 tsp. paprika

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. black pepper

1tbsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. sugar

1 small bowl of chopped scallions (I did not have scallions last time, so I used one tbsp. chopped basil and 1tsp. chopped cilantra instead)



  1. Make Ingredients:

Mix all the ground turkey with vegetable oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic paste, chilly sauce, paprika and set aside

Chop the cabbage, add salt, black pepper, sugar and sesame oil

Mix turkey with cabbage

Spread chopped scallions and mix again

  1. Wrap Dumplings:

Dip your finger in the water

Moisture the edge of the dumpling wrapper

Add Stuffings

Wrap them with pleats and press hard to seal

  1. Cook Dumplings (Two different ways):

1) Boil water and then put dumplings in the water. When the water boils again, add half a bowl of cold water and wait for the water to boil, and add another half a bowl of cold water to cook. One more boiling and one more adding cold water, the dumplings should be cooked through.

2) Spray a tablespoon of oil on a frying pan and when oil is hot, add dumplings in the pan. Cook about 1-minute until the bottoms are brown. Add 1 small cup of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium. When the water is dried up in around 5-7 minutes, the dumplings are cooked through.

You can also check the link http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-asian-dumplings-from-scratch-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-190431 for images of making dumplings

Holi Hai!

By Jahanavi Gupta

Penn State Harrisburg will host its 4th annual Holi Festival on campus for all students, faculty and staff to attend. The Holi Festival AND Color Run event comes with festival performances, cultural presentation, dinner, and then all will go out to play with colorful powders on the S. Yard outside CUB. Bring your student ID to check in the CUB for the event. The event is to be held on Sunday, March 12, 2017. 3-8PM in the Student Center, CUB. The objective of the event is for the campus community to come together to have a good time learning about, embracing and enjoying the Hindu festival in all its glory.

 is a Hindu spring festival in India and Nepal, also known as the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love”. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships, and is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest.  It lasts for two days starting on the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Bikram Sambat Hindu Calendar.

Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika bonfire where people gather, do religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil should be destroyed as the bonfire starts. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi – a free-for-all carnival of colors, where participants play, chase and color each other with dry powder and colored water, with some carrying water guns and colored water-filled balloons for their water fight. The frolic and fight with colors occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes to throw colored powders on each other, laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up and visit friends and family.

All in all it is a love-laughter, color, food and fun fest celebrated with one’s near and dear! And so we’d like to invite our dearest Penn State Harrisburg family to join us on this delightful occasion on March 12th, 2017 in the CUB from 3-8pm so that together we can spread the color of love and happiness. Looking forward to seeing you there!

To have a glimpse of the event, please check out the video of Penn State Harrisburg Holi 2016 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8K7fpYCt6U (video credit to Calida Gao).

Lunar New Year — Feel of Home Miles Away

By Chubo (Tony) Peng

Lunar New Year is also known as Chinese New Year in the West. It is an annual celebration marking the start of the New Year according to the lunar calendar.  It falls in the months of January or February, and each Lunar New Year is represented by 1 of the 12 creatures of the Chinese Zodiac – 2017 is the year of the Rooster.  In the past, the Lunar New Year Celebration is always one of the best among all events held on campus at Penn State Harrisburg, and this year is no exception. Compared with past years, this year’s 5th annual Lunar New Year Celebration, which was held on Friday, Feb. 10, in the Student Center of Capital Union Building, was better than ever. Humorously coordinated by four hosts from Indonesia (Laela Sifa), China (Yixuan Sun), Vietnam (Sanh Phung), and the Nigerian American (Buka Chinatu) respectively, joy and laughter never ceased from the first minute of the event till the last.

  (Picture left: A lion dance performed by the Little Star Chinese Language School)

The celebration kicked off with an authentic East Asian dinner catered from Royal Buffet & Grill.  Afterwards, two colorful lions from the local Chinese community went up to the stage to dance, which amused the audience with their various leaps and jumps.  The dance was then followed by two informative cultural presentations on Lunar New Year Food (by Megan Cheng, a Global Ambassador of Penn State Harrisburg) and Folk Arts (by Professor Luo, a visiting scholar for the School of Humanities). The upcoming performances were filled with surprises and cheers: Penn State Harrisburg students sang songs in many different languages, the wonderful Martial Arts demo by Jose Johnson’s Chinese Martial Art & Wellness Center, different genres of Asian ethnic or folk dances performed by the students and community artists.  At the end of the performances, the two Cantonese songs performed by Penn State Harrisburg student Huikai Wang, and the awesome Korean song by Penn State Harrisburg Global Ambassador Chloe Cho, lifted the audiences’ spirit to another level. As the songs moved on, the crowd turned on the flashlight on their phones and waved them in the air—as if they were supporting their favorite singers on one of his/her tours.

(Picture left: Lunar New Year fashion contestants)

The highlight of the evening would be the annual traditional and ethnic fashion show.  Thirty-five fashion contestants from nearly 20 countries joined the fashion competition. After the careful comparison and selection of the judges, a Penn State Harrisburg girl’s trio from India, Jahanavi Gupta, Pravallika Sanke, and Manasi Sathe, were crowned the best dressed female award; the best dressed male was pocketed by Penn State Harrisburg’s seasoned Global Ambassador from China, Chubo “Tony” Peng.

(Picture left: Educational Counselor Xu of China Consulate General in New York & Chubo “Tony” Peng, the best dressed male winner)

Along with hundreds of Penn State Harrisburg students, this wonderful event was also joined by many school faculties/staff members, and numerous community artists.  The campus was especially honored to have the presence of Educational Counselor Xu and Vice Consul Li who drove from China Consulate General in New York to our campus to attend this annual event for the first time. All of them spoke highly of this event’s quality. One of the fashion judges, Larry Asu, an alumni of Penn State Harrisburg, couldn’t hold back his compliments, “On a scale of 10, I’ll rate it (Lunar New Year) a solid 10!” “The lion dance is the best of all time!” added another faculty member, Dr. Ryoo of School of Humanities, who served as another fashion judge, “I really learned a lot from the presentations. And I’m eager to learn more.” Vice Consul Li of China Consulate General in New York put it well: “This is the best Lunar New Year event I attended. The event makes students feel at home, and even though I am a guest, I feel like I am a family member here.” Anna Marshall, the International Student Adviser of Penn State Harrisburg, appreciated all the kind support of the community, both on-campus and off-campus, at her closing remarks.

The event ended with a red pack for each attendee to bring home as the Lunar New Year 2017 gift when they exited the Capital Union Building of Penn State Harrisburg.  A memorable night to remember.  May the Year of Rooster bring you joy, love, and peace.

(Picture right: First place female fashion winners — Jahanavi Gupta, Pravallika Sanke, and Manasi Sathe)