By Kerry Kong
Just seconds before taking to the runway, Damilola Daramola was still practicing his strut backstage.
Not only was this Daramola's first time on a catwalk, it was also the first time that a fashion show has been included in Ohio University's International Week lineup. Organized by the International Week Planning Committee, Global Runway celebrated contemporary and traditional fashions from around the world. The show featured more than 50 models from 13 countries across the globe.
"I felt pretty relieved in the sense that I didn't trip or anything," said Daramola, looking back on his runway debut.
As a doctoral candidate in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Daramola jumped at the chance to show off this traditional ensemble, which is usually reserved for special occasions in his homeland of western Nigeria. He received the garment as a Christmas gift from his mother when she came to visit him at Ohio University in 2006.
Daramola said his parents usually try to give him an authentic memoir of home during their annual trip to campus. But it is also a Nigerian tradition that parents sew new clothes for their children every year around Christmas.
"I chose this because when this item is worn, people are aware that there is a special occasion going on," he said. "And nothing is more special this week than highlighting the international students at Ohio University."
Molly Micheels, the show organizer and a program coordinator in the Office of Education Abroad, first suggested an International Week fashion show in fall 2008. Inspired by this year's success, she hopes the event will live on as an International Week tradition.
"I was very pleased with the professional feel of the show. The lighting, music and stage all gave it the feeling of a true fashion show," she said, adding, "I think the crowd really enjoyed seeing a variety of fashions -- both contemporary and traditional."
Global Runway attracted more than 130 audience members, who voiced support through loud cheers and a constant stream of cell phone pictures.
For Joan Kanyange, a first-year graduate student in the African studies program, the royal treatment complemented her royal attire. Her garment was traditionally worn by princesses in western Uganda, she explained.
This particular piece -- an elaborate flowing gown in sunset hues -- had been given to Kanyange by her parents as a symbol of being ushered into womanhood.
"I am very proud of the diverse African cultural heritage and would love to engage in any opportunity aimed at showcasing my culture as well as making my culture known to fellow students on the Ohio University campus and beyond," she said.
International Week continues through Sunday, May 17. For a complete schedule if events, please visit www.ohio.edu/internationalweek/schedule.html.