Professor styles cultural attire into curriculum
April 26, 2011

To contribute to International Week and satisfy university curriculum, Christy Crutsinger, a professor and the associate dean of the merchandise and hospitality management department, has created an innovative lesson for students to interact cross-culturally through different modes of dress. The International Dress Panel, which took place Tuesday, is put on by Crutsinger's fashion theory class every semester and consists of people who can access their culture's traditional costumes. "Seeing is believing to me, and seeing authentic dress up close is a much more hands-on approach than reading it out of a textbook," Crutsinger said. Along with the visual representation of different cultures through clothing, participants in the panel provide a historic background on their culture. Crutsinger said the panel has included experts covering countries like Vietnam, China, South Korea, India and Greece, who wear their traditional costume in front of the audience and tell the history of their dress, how it originated and its relevance to modern dress.


Audhesh Paswan of the marketing faculty and educator on India's different subcultures of dress previously participated in the panel's efforts to build awareness of different cultures and customs. Paswan said it is vital for students to understand what role in history culture plays, and the panel is a method to let students understand the concept visually. He provided information about the Indian culture, dating back 4,000 years, and how it contributes to the attire seen all over the world today.


Tori Tran, a merchandising student from Vietnam, said she hopes to contribute next year with traditional Vietnamese costumes and family traditions. "To me, the panel is amazing for international students from anywhere, not just Vietnam, to feel at home and more incorporated into UNT," she said. Tuesday's panel represented India, Korea, China, and Vietnam. Participants included Stacy Lee and Ran Huang, merchandising graduate students, and Tanya Srivastava, a merchandising freshman.


Lee, who provided expertise on Korea and wore a traditional HanBok dress, said although the Korean costume and customs are very time-honored, many people no longer follow the strict Korean traditions they once did when it comes to clothes. Srivastava represented India for the panel and said the sari, a necessity in Indian garb for women, is viewed as sophisticated and beautiful, but many women opt for the more modern dress that is so prevalent in America.


Crutsinger said the panel is a unique way to build awareness of other cultures and the values they hold as seen through their attire. "The overall lesson here is to learn something different from someone who is different from you and from me," Crutsinger said.

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