Fair promotes cultural exchange

Adriana Perez Collegio Reporter

Kristen Humphrey enjoys the annual Food and Culture Fair so much that she brought her whole family to the event.

“I love coming here every year, and bringing my children, my aunt and my dad,’’ said Humphrey, assistant professor of social science at Pittsburg State University.

This year the fair, held Saturday in Memorial Auditorium, featured food and performances from a total of 33 countries, from Africa to Brazil, from India to Korea.

“We had a really good turnout this year,” said Meron Garerdew, nursing student from Ethiopia and president of the International Student Association. “The students put a lot of work to make this event possible and they got to raise some money for their organizations.’’

There were artistic performances of music, poetry and dance, including music from a trio of Paraguayan students, Ernesto Estigarribia and Alheli Aranda, both freshmen in music, and Daniel Ayala, junior in music and piano performance.

“We think this is a great opportunity for musicians like us to be able to show our identity and represent our country,” Ayala said.

“And we also learn from our international peers through their cultural expression,” added Aranda.

Navneet Kaur, a computer science student from India, agreed:  ‘’I’m pretty excited about my performance in the Food and Culture Fair and it took us around two weeks to practice our dance routine.’’

The crowd enjoyed a variety of foods, like kabsa bil-lahm (rice with meat) and haysa al-tumreya (Arabic coffee), from the students of Saudi Arabia.

“It took us around four days to prepare all the meals and it’s very exciting to see all the people lining up to taste our food,’’ said Abdulghani Almushir, sophomore in mechanical engineering from Saudi Arabia.

There were also traditional desserts from Brazil, like cajuzinho and rocambole de doce de leite, made with ingredients like caramel and coconut.

“’We made five different desserts and it took us one day to cook everything,” said Bruna Pinhoni. “We had to go to Kansas City to get some of the ingredients and this is the first time that Brazil is in the Food and Culture Fair.’’

According to Colby Elvert, graduate assistant who works in International Programs and Services, the office helps the ISA, whose members plan and organize the event.

“The result is always very impressive, how they get united by their own national identity and how they showcase their culture,’’ Elvert said. “This is a great way for the International Student Association to reach out to the community.”

Events like the Food and Culture Fair, Elvert said, allow students to demonstrate their traditions and are an opportunity for Americans to learn about a different culture without leaving the United States.

“The cultural exchange that happens is very significant.’’

One of the Americans taking part in that opportunity was Kathleen Ismert, senior in communication.

“This is a great opportunity for us Americans as well as the international students and community members to experience this intercultural exchange,’’ she said.

A regular at this event is Joey Pogue, associate professor in communication.

“I always come to this event because I get a wide variety of meals with a new sensation, and I also come to support my students,’’ he said.


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