OPINION | Utah Tech needs more pageants based on specific cultures

The International Student Office is excited to have not only two but also three International royalty from this year. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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While representation for foreign cultures at Utah Tech University continues to grow, Utah Tech could become even more welcoming to international students with just a bit of tweaking to certain events on campus.

Thanks to events like the Miss Native Utah Tech pageant and the International Student Showcase, students are able to represent the various cultures and backgrounds of the student body. However, this representation can be taken further.

Utah Tech University is home to many events centered around sharing foreign cultures that may otherwise go unnoticed. This is a wonderful way for the students of Utah Tech to grow closer and receive a better understanding of the upbringing of their peers.

While events like the Miss Native Utah Tech pageant and the International showcase are welcome, more focused pageants would be a fabulous way to wipe away the culture barrier.

Miss Native is a perfect template for this type of event. I had the pleasure of speaking with Miss Native Utah Tech Kiki Aldolpho, a sophomore exercise science major from Alberta, Canada, to hear her take on extra representation on campus for foreign students.

“I think that it’s a fun idea to do more culture pageants, and we should definitely do that,” said Aldolpho. “I do believe we need more funding and marketing to make it known. It’s a great and fun way to spread culture, and it’s a great learning experience. After all, that’s why we are all here at the university: to learn.”

Not only is it a great way to spread awareness of different cultures, but it’s also a good way to make students feel welcome despite being thousands of miles away from home.

“Doing this pageant has opened so many doors and opportunities for me,” said Aldolpho. “It helps me get through school and meet many people. It’s also a great way to get your name out there. You get to go on this journey of learning and questioning, and it’s quite exciting.”

As a born and bred St. George resident, I would love to see more of these wonderful cultures integrated into our student life.

The question is, where do we start?

While the International Student Showcase is a fine event, it would be even better if it was a finale at the end of the school year. Instead of jamming a bunch of cultures together, there should be multiple pageants focused on specific cultures.

Imagine a pageant focused on Polynesian culture or perhaps Hispanic culture. We also have quite a few transfer students from Japan that could use some welcoming in the form of a pageant.

Once the end of the school year comes around, that’s when the International Student Showcase would be held. It would consist of the winners from each of the separate pageants that was mentioned and would be a wonderful way to celebrate culture as a whole at Utah Tech.

Not only would this new International Student Showcase be informative, but it would also be very entertaining to see the buildup to such an event. The most important part about this sort of investment is to learn about the world past the red rocks of St. George.

Aldolpho said these events are integral to the understanding and learning of new cultures outside of one’s own household.

“It feels so good to represent, and I love spreading awareness,” said Aldolpho. “A favorite of mine is when people come up to me with questions about my culture with the intent of listening to understand.”

Encouraging such understanding is the key reason as to why these pageants are important to the students of Utah Tech. In a world where it’s very easy to stereotype cultures because of the actions of one person, having more pageants like Miss Native Utah Tech can help bridge the culture gap and most importantly, create friendships that will last for a lifetime.