Hanabi festival lights up the night at Washburn

The International Club opens events and festivals to all students on campus. Paeton McCarty, senior political science major, had not planned to attend until he had seen the firework celebration on the south lawn of the International House.

Smiles and fireworks filled the night at the International House Wednesday, Sept. 21, in celebration of the Hanabi festival.
The International Club, a student-run organization for international and domestic students alike, organized the event to simultaneously celebrate Japanese culture and expose students, faculty and staff to a culture different from their own.
“At the International Club, we celebrate many cultures and traditions, such as the Hanabi festival,” said Junnosuke Saito, president of the International Club and senior communications major. “We were supposed to celebrate it during the full moon, but it’s already kind of gone.”
The festival has a long history in Japan in celebrating spiritual beauty. It became popular during the Edo period of Japan, which was roughly from the beginning of the 17th century to the middle of the 19th century. Fireworks were used as a method to ward away evil spirits during festivities.
Today, fireworks are synonymous with festivals throughout the year. During Hanabi, typically held during a full moon, attendees enjoy food, games and a relaxing atmosphere.
“We usually eat food and shoot off fireworks during Hanabi,” said Minami Isobe, vice president of the International Club and junior psychology major.

The food prepared for the event consisted of Japanese-style fried chicken called karaage, miso soup, a salad bar and chocolate covered fruit, all of which was served by the officers of the International Club.
Students and professors alike were in attendance, many hailing from different nationalities.
“I attended to support the International Club,” said Kirshan Ferguson, senior medical laboratory science major from the Bahamas.
Others attended because they believe that it’s important for people to be exposed to different cultures, especially for local students.
“It’s important because you’re going to make more friends. You can learn from other cultures,” said Costanza Armadans, freshman marketing major from Paraguay. “International students love when someone is interested enough to learn about their culture. It can make them feel so important.”
Festivities moved outside to the south lawn of the International House for the main event of the evening: the fireworks. Students were given small sparklers, each helping one another light their fuses before the night erupted into sparks and laughter.
For one student who didn’t know about the evening event, the festival came as a pleasant surprise.
“I was actually just walking by, but I thought I saw something interesting,” said Paeton McCarty, senior political science major. “I saw people and the sparklers. At first, I just walked away, but then I thought, ‘You know what? I might meet some nice people here or have a nice time,’ so I just went for it.”
Students began to leave as the embers died out, each saying their own farewells to the new and familiar faces they met during the festival, which was considered a great success.
“Festivals are really important to us, so we celebrate them no matter what. Our Japanese students are critical to us,” said Andy Vogel, coordinator of international student recruitment and retention. “We’re always trying to add new festivals for our students.”
The International Club has several events planned for this semester, with each one celebrating a different tradition and representing different groups of international students on campus.
Those who are interested in when and where these events will take place can contact International Programs at [email protected] for more details.

Edited by LeSha’ Davis, Alijah McCracken