International Showcase brings talent, representation from contestants

The International Program hosted an annual international showcase March 5. This event provides international students the opportunity to earn scholarships and allowed them to showcase their cultures. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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Guests were welcomed by country flags as they walked the pathway to the stage. Inside, contestants performed talents that represented their culture, while audience members could be heard singing and chanting along to songs and dances.

The International Student Showcase occurred March 5 in the Eccles Mainstage Theatre. The event was hosted by Utah Tech University’s International Program and was emceed by Ives Hong, a junior psychology major from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Alvaro Lopez, a junior finance major from Lima, Peru, who were the International Royalty for 2023.

The event consisted of three categories including cultural presentation and talent, evening or cultural formal and personal interview. The judges for the event were faculty and audience members.

International royalty was crowned to three contestants out of the six with three different scholarships. The winners included:

  • $1500 for People’s Choice Award to Alvaro Osuna Jimenez, a freshman bioinformatics from Spain
  • $1500 for Judge’s Choice Award to Ai Maeda, a sophomore computer science major from Japan
  • $500 for runner-up to Leonardo Mendez Iporre, a junior finance major from Bolivia

The night started off with a performance from Lopez called a scissor dance. Following this performance, the contestants began with their cultural presentation and talent. This was a way for the candidates to engage with the audience to represent their culture.

“Of course, the goal was to become international royalty, but more than that, I wanted to create a fun showcase with all the candidates and the audience,” Maeda said.

Maeda represented her country by performing a traditional Japanese dance with fellow students.

Maeda said: “For me, it was a great opportunity to showcase myself and my country. Ever since I saw the showcase a year ago, I wanted to be there next year.”

Contestant Jonathan Sanderson, a freshman biology major from the United Kingdom, played “I Vow to Thee My Country” on the piano for his talent. He said the performance was a way for him to show Americans how they honor their dead. He also said it was a very patriotic and emotional piece for him, which is why he decided to use it for his talent.

Moe Theint Thu, a freshman design major from Myanmar, was also one of the contestants. She sang “Mask” for her talent because it is one of her favorite songs. Thu decided to compete in the competition, like many other contestants, to represent her country.

For audience member Bella Pena, a freshman general studies major from Las Vegas, Thu was her favorite performance of the night because she felt the song impacted her. She also enjoyed listening to the speeches during the interview part of the night.

“The answers to the questions, I feel like every single one [contestant] nailed it,” Pena said. “And it really resonated with the audience, especially since they were on the spot for the questions.”

After the cultural presentation and talent, Hong rapped and danced as one of his final acts as International Royalty. During his performance, Bella Estes, a junior communication studies major from Scottsdale, Arizona, joined him on the stage.

After not having his previous dance partners at Utah Tech, Hong said he reached out to his friend Estes since he knew she could dance. While the dance was enjoyable, he is also looking forward to seeing what the new royalty accomplishes.

“I’m just very excited to see them everywhere and wearing the crown and representing international students,” Hong said.

International student royalty from 2022, Utah Tech alum Alejandra Henriquez and Ivan Mosiichuck, were welcomed back onto the stage to present the 2024 winners. While the votes were tallied up, there were guest performers representing a variety of different cultures through dance. These included Indian Fusion Dance, Hongyan and New Year’s Overture.

In case you missed the showcase and are interested in watching it, students can find the production on YouTube and watch the talent of Utah Tech’s International students.

“I am happy to be able to contribute to ISO [International Student Organization] as a royalty for the next year,” Maeda said. “I am filled with gratitude for the people who supported me and helped me.”

Additional reporting by Madisyn Bishop.