International Fair 2013: Painting a Global Canvas

January 28, 2013

International Fair 2013

Hundreds of Knox College students and other Galesburg-area residents participated in the 32nd annual Knox College International Fair, a traditional event that highlights the diverse cultures of people from around the world.

Organized by the Knox International Club, the January 26 event included a food fair featuring a wide range of international dishes prepared by Knox students, informational booths, and a student talent show. This year's I-Fair theme was "Media: Painting a Global Canvas."

The talent show opened with the Parade of Flags, in which students from about 50 countries entered Kresge Auditorium one by one while carrying the flag for their country. A few facts about each country -- such as population and official language -- were displayed on a screen above the stage, and as students reached the stage, each delivered a brief welcome in his or her native language.

Knox College President Teresa Amott carried the last of the flags, the one for Knox College, while the screen displayed some facts about Knox, including "Official language: Squirrel."

"Knox College, where the world comes together," she said as students waved their flags and the audience cheered.

Here is a look at some of the people who attended the 2013 International Fair and what they had to say about the event.


Becky Wilson of Rio, her daughter Tricia Wilson, and Tricia's 7-year-old daughter, Asia Johnson, arrived on the Knox campus a little before 9:30 a.m. Saturday, early enough to be first in line for the food fair.

Tricia Wilson said she enjoys the unique foods that Knox students cook for I-Fair.

"We've always had the mindset that you don't know you don't like (a certain food) unless you try it," she said, adding that she learned a few years ago she doesn't like sushi, but at least she now knows how it tastes.

Asia, attending her second Knox International Fair, said her favorite part of the event also is the food.

"I just try everything," she said.

International Fair 2013SHELLY BHANOT 

Shelly Bhanot, a Knox junior from Barrington, Illinois, staffed one of the informational booths, artfully drew henna tattoos on passers-by who wanted them. The ornate, often flowery-looking tattoos fade in about a week.

Bhanot, a chemistry major who is minoring in gender and women's studies, said this was the second time she has participated in International Fair.

"The importance of doing this is to raise cultural awareness," said Bhanot, whose family comes from India. "I-Fair is a time that really highlights the richness of cultures" that are represented by Knox students.


International Fair 2013Roberta Bethard of Galesburg was making her first visit to Knox's International Fair at the invitation of her friend, Frank Gustine '60.

"He said it's just a lot of fun," Bethard said while in line for the food fair. "You get to sample different foods."

Gustine estimated he has attended about a dozen International Fairs over the years.

"I like to travel. I compare what I see around the world with what they have here," he said. "I enjoy seeing how other cultures live, work, and interact. Knox provides an exceptional opportunity to do that."


Bo Ram Lee, a junior economics major who is from both Korea and Argentina, was floating between the Asian Student Association's calligraphy table and the Korean Club booth. She was dressed in a hanbok, a traditional Korean outfit.International Fair 2013

"A hanbok is worn at the New Year, during the Autumn Festival, or at a wedding," Lee explained. "Basically for important events."

Lee was looking forward to the Parade of Flags.

"I will be carrying the Argentina flag," she said. "So I have to make sure to change my clothes."

Lee lives in the Asian Culture House, which she says has helped her adjust to life at Knox while maintaining her culture.

"It is a place to share ideas and for all of us to keep in touch with our cultures and friends," Lee said. "We all see each other around on campus, but we're not usually talking about that sort of stuff."


Minah Rathore, a Knox senior and International Club president, was excited about the increased participation at this year's event.

International Fair 2013"We really amped up the publicity this year and went all over town," she said. "There has been a great turnout so far. The lines for the food fair were so long. I've really enjoyed seeing everyone here."

Rathore, who is from Pakistan, was also looking forward to the talent show and Parade of Flags.

"The performances are an entertaining way to learn about other cultures," said Rathore, who is majoring in international relations. "We have our first Nepalese dance this year."

Rathore, who has been in International Club since her first year, says being in a community of international students has enhanced her Knox experience.

"I-Club has helped me grow as a person, learn about leadership skills and teamwork, and I've made most of my friends from I-Club," she said.


"I've been an international student all my life," explained Kyle Cruz, a senior who is from the Philippines but grew up in Cambodia.International Fair 2013

Cruz was staffing the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship's (IVCF) booth about Christianity around the world. He is president of the club.

"We're showing how Christianity is practiced all around the world, and how it merges with different cultures," Cruz said. "I hope people don't think it is just a Western thing."

The IVCF booth also featured a prayer box. Cruz was looking forward to the cultural show, where he performed a poem titled "The Global Feast."

"It's all about the wonder of diversity and how living in a diverse world is a gift," Cruz said.

Being an international student in the Knox community has been a good learning experience, he added.

"International students can give a different perspective on things," said Cruz, who spent a year studying abroad in Israel. "And in the same way others can learn from us, we can learn from people here. We all learn from our different views."


First-year students Abdulsalam Oganla and Charles Edemba, both from Nigeria, staffed the Harambee Club table.International Fair 2013

"Everything has been so exciting," Edemba said of his first I-Fair experience. "The Chai Town a capella concert last night was good, and today I ate some Chinese food and Spanish rice. I enjoyed the Chinese food."

Oganla also enjoyed the food fair portion of I-Fair.

"I liked the African plantains," he said.

The pair played African music from their table while other Harambee Club members danced nearby. Being in a club of international students has been beneficial, Edemba explained.

"They have all made it really easy to adjust to life here," he said. "They have been like a family to me."

ERIN BELLInternational Fair 2013

Senior Erin Bell, French Club president, staffed the French Club table that featured a French trivia game. Bell says being in French Club is a good way to maintain her interest in French while pursuing her major in creative writing.

In addition to running the booth, Bell also cooked French food for the Food Fair: a chocolate cake called a molleux and a vegetarian quiche lorraine.

"I love the baking and cooking part of I-Fair," she said. "There were about three or four groups in the kitchen making dishes from all over the world. It was a really cool experience that felt very international."