VIPP participants gather around a pumpkin carving demonstration.
VIPP participants gather around a pumpkin carving demonstration.

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Internationals get spooky at American Culture Night

Posted By: Stephanie Motschenbacher    Published: Thursday, 29 Oct 2009

Its spooky, its scary and its a truly cultural experience.

Participants saw the spooky side of American tradition at the latest American Culture Night hosted by the Visiting International Professional Program at MSU. Participants at the event experienced many Halloween traditions, including carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples and dressing in costume.

Some people celebrate Halloween in Russia, but its not this big, said Maria Kornakova, a foreign language teaching assistant at MSU. When Halloween is celebrated in Russia there is no trick-or-treating, because it is mostly in schools said Kornakova, an Uzbekistan native. Its so fun and different here, she said. Im really excited!

Other participants found American Halloween and holidays celebrated in their country to be similar.

Yan Lei, a visiting university professor, said Halloween is similar to Childrens Day, which is held on June 1 in China. The only real difference is costumes for Halloween, she said. Its very interesting seeing all of the different costumes, Lei said.

Participants took part in Halloween activities, such as bobbing for apples, while learning the history and culture behind the holiday through a special presentation. Graveyard juice, a concoction of cider and gummy worms, and candy body parts were just some of the unique Halloween fare enjoyed at the event. Participants also had hands-on experience with carving pumpkins as VIPP staff demonstrated the creation of jack olanterns. To cap the event, participants chose from a variety of Halloween movies, ranging from kids movies to suspense, and from classic horror to present-day slasher films.

American Culture Nights that showcase holidays such as Halloween are important for participants to provide a link between cultures, said Michael Miller, Director of VIPP. Halloween is such a unique part of the American experience, and these events that provide insight into American life while giving an opportunity to discuss the differences in tradition are particularly relevant to understanding culture, Miller said. Participants in VIPP events get to see the best parts of what it means to celebrate holidays like Halloween.

If you are interested in learning more about VIPP, or volunteering to help with cultural activities, please contact the VIPP offices at 517.432.3663 or email

Tags: china  uzbekistan  russia  


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