Melissa Smith '18, Anya Wang '17, and Knight Distinguished Associate Professor for the Study of Religion & Cu...
Office of Communications
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
February 03, 2017
by Elise Goitia '18 and Bailey Musselman '18
Students, faculty, staff, and the Galesburg community gathered in the lobby of the Center for the Fine Arts, where the space had been transformed into an all-embracing market filled with crafts, costumes, and cultural diversity. Here, people were offered the opportunity to meet students who represent some of the campus's 45 different nationalities that participated in International Fair 2017.
"I wanted to represent my culture," said Mohammad Kamran '19, who wore a kurta, a traditional South Asian suit. "I'm Pakistani American. I'm in a different country than my own so I wanted to showcase that America has many diverse backgrounds. Everyone has something unique to give."
This year's I-Fair, themed "Holidays: Celebrate Around the World," featured a booth fair, flags parade, cultural showcase, and food fair that reflected the diverse backgrounds of people around the world.
M.E.Ch.A., or the Chicano Student Movement from Aztlan, hosted a booth that featured Mexican culture through a colorful display of one of the dances that also was featured in the showcase. The indigenous dance was called, "Baile de los Viejitos," or "Dance of the Old Men."
"It was a ritual for people who were sick," explained Julieta Cervantes '19, who hosted the booth and performed in the dance. "It's meant to represent us calling to the ancestors so they heal the person who is ill."
I-Fair was also on the day of the Chinese New Year. Chinese Club's booth had a colorful paper-máche dragon head used in parades to celebrate the New Year. Students taught calligraphy and how to make Chinese knots, which symbolize happiness for the following year.
"As a participant of Chinese Club, I want to tell people more about China culture to help break stereotypes," Alex Zhou '17 said.
International students are 12% of the student population at Knox College, and they represent 51 countries around the world. I-Fair, celebrated annually since 1982, is sponsored by the Knox College International Club, one of the largest student organizations on campus.
The Cultural Showcase opened with the parade of flags, with the flag-bearing students greeting the audience in their national language. The parade was followed by a variety of dances, songs, and poetry.
Japanese Club performed two dances, the Fisherman's Dance, a Japanese traditional dance originating in Hokkaido, and "Koi Dance," which represents falling in love and is currently popular in Japan.
"It's very fun for us to get together and tell everyone what our club is about," said Michiko Li '17, who participated in the booth, performances, and the food fair. "This is an opportunity for us to get to know each other and actually participate in a cultural activity rather than just discussing it."
"I saw a couple students coming in from Monmouth and I thought it was awesome that nearby schools were coming to Knox to experience this cultural diversity," she said. "It's a really wonderful thing."
International Fair concluded with food from around the world. Students Abena Atwimah '18 and Joya Kitoko '18, members of Harambee Club, helped prepare the food that would represent Nigeria during the Fair.
"We made chicken kabobs, beef kabobs, and chin-chin, which is a crunchy snack made in Nigeria," said Atwimah. "We started on Wednesday and finished on Saturday—it took us that entire time to make the food. Overall, the hard work is worth it because people enjoy it."
"It was really time-consuming," said Kitoko, "but in the end everyone liked it and we enjoyed the compliments."
"People kept coming back for more!" added Atwimah.
Holly Bieber '17 noticed the diversity of the crowd, with visitors from surrounding communities attending I-Fair.
"It's always nice to see people from different communities come together to enjoy a bunch of different cultures," she said. "What better way to do that than through good food?"
Residents of the Galesburg community, Frank O'Reilly and his family, have attended the food fair for the past three years. "We bring trays every year because we want to try everything. We don't have enough hands to try all the amazing food."
When asked about her favorite food of the night, O'Reilly's granddaughter, Autumn, said that she loved the Kashmiri Tea because of its bright pink color. "I hope they have it next year. I'm telling all of my friends about it."
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