Master’s students in hospitality and tourism management recently organized an “International Festival of Lights” at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in metro Washington, D.C.

More than 200 guests attended the event, including MBA students; Pamplin College of Business alumni, faculty, staff; industry representatives; and family members.

“The students planned and conducted the event as a practical experience in hospitality and tourism management studies,” said Professor Mahmood Khan, the department’s graduate program director in Northern Virginia. 

The master of science program currently enrolls 35 students representing nine countries, he said. “This is the first time a multicultural event has been held on such a large scale here.”

The event, he said, coincides with Diwali, the Indian festival that is widely observed by lighting lamps and fireworks. “The main theme of Diwali is the victory of light over darkness," he said. "In Indian mythology, it represents events celebrating the defeat of evil and the return of happiness.”

The event started with the U.S. and Indian national anthems sung by Evening MBA students, followed by a cultural program with music, dance, and solo performances by students, alumni, and their families. 

Guests enjoyed a variety of appetizers, Khan said, followed by “a lavish Indian meal” provided by alumnus Kumaran Ravi, owner of the Chennai Express restaurant in Chantilly, Virginia. 

Virginia Tech’s hospitality and tourism management program is ranked No. 2 in the nation and No. 6 worldwide.

Business information technology professor Barbara Hoopes lights the lamp, which marks  the start of the event. To the right are hospitality and tourism management professor Mahmood Khan and MBA student Mala Lal.
Business information technology professor Barbara Hoopes participates in the lamp lighting ceremony, which marks the beginning of the event, while hospitality and tourism management professor Mahmood Khan and MBA student Mala Lal look on.
Mahmood Khan (front row center) poses with a large group of some of the students and other guests at the event.
Mahmood Khan (front row center) and some of the students and other guests at the event.
left to right: Kayla Asonganyi, Maxine Kwarteng, Amanda Baden, Farida Mohamed, DoYoung Kim, Touhi Zaman, and Tsai Yu Hsu. All are master’s students in hospitality and tourism management, except for Zaman, who is an MBA student.
Left to right: Kayla Asonganyi, Maxine Kwarteng, Amanda Baden, Farida Mohamed, DoYoung Kim, Touhi Zaman, and Tsai Yu Hsu. All are master’s students in hospitality and tourism management, except for Zaman, who is an MBA student.
Seven children in traditional Indian dress perform a dance at the event.
The young dancers were trained by Pratima Mathur, who runs an Indian dance school and is the wife of an MBA student.