Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 15, 2016

CULTURAL CUISINE Palestinian food was one of the many dining options available at the Intercultural Fair last Sunday.

Students Travel Around the World in Four Hours

Karen Kanyike

Excited chatter, the aroma of delicious food from all over the world, cheerful laughter and bright colors made the International Fair, held on Sunday, April 10, a culturally vibrant journey to various countries around the globe. The fair took place in the main gym of the Physical Education and Recreation Center.

The gym was beautifully and carefully decorated with flags from different countries and international fabric with intricate patterns and designs. Most of the food stations and information booths were lined up along the walls of the space with the dinner tables, laid with green, red and white linen, taking up the middle area. The stage, where the various cultures were brought to life through music and dance, was set at the back of the gym.

The Fair began with a few remarks from Grammy and Dove Award–winning singer and songwriter/producer, Rudy Currence, who served as emcee for the event. This was followed by a cultural dance representing eastern, central and western Africa; captivating performances by SAYAW: Philippine Dance Company, Indianapolis Minyo Dancers (Japanese) and Fort Wayne’s Pipe and Drum Band (Scottish). The most moving performance was a dance tribute by Dagmawit Alemu, a first-year biology and political science major from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She performed an endearing Ethiopian dance to celebrate the lives of Nerad Mangai, Brook Dagnew and Kirubel Hailu, three Manchester students who lost their lives in a car crash earlier this spring. A few of the international students joined her and this roused a lot of excitement from the crowd.

Alemu was one of the host students of the event. She helped prepare a variety of Ethiopian dishes and talked about her experience preparing them. “The International Fair was so much fun in the kitchen, behind closed doors where we would fight with everyone to try the food,” she said. “It felt like that vibe we had back home [and the process] of getting ready and getting all our cultural stuff to decorate our table was exciting but nothing compares to see all our work come together and see people enjoy our food and our culture.”

Tyler Roebuck, a junior English major, journalism and history minor from Middlebury, Ind., was quite delighted with his experience. “I most thoroughly enjoyed the food, though the entertainment was on point as well,” he said. “Several of my friends either weren’t hungry or had to leave, so they gave me their extra tickets. Even so, I left without any extras, so if you do the math, I had far too much food.” He especially enjoyed the Japanese Curry, which he described as having “a perfect blend of curry flavor, a sweet, Japanese-style tang, and a teeny bit of heat to round it out.”

As community members, visitors, faculty, staff and students socialized and ate to their fill, Currence sang and played slow music to keep them entertained during the intermissions. Naa Asheley Nyemitei, a junior sociology major and international studies minor from Dodowa, Ghana, shared what she thought about the event. “My first experience at the International Fair was great,” she said. “I enjoyed trying the variety of dishes. My favorite parts of the show were the performances by Rudy Currence and Dagmawit’s dance tribute to our departed friends.” She is eagerly looking forward to the next fair.

A few other attendees provided positive impressions of the event and preparations. “I loved the experience of getting to cook with my friends and to see the great community of international students come together for this amazing event,” said Cassandra Imhoff, a sophomore business management major from Smithville, Ohio. “Everyone really did a good job!”

Vasin Pasda, a senior economics major and math minor from Surin, Thailand, had a powerful view of the event. “It is wonderful to see international students in North Manchester work tirelessly to create a wonderful event,” he said. “The International Fair is our contribution to the North Manchester community. While the tragic accident had happened just more than a month ago, we stood together and moved forward. This event manifested our strength and love to the North Manchester community.”

Tabo Chata, a sophomore engineering science major from Windhoek, Namibia, was excited to be a part of the fair. “I had the opportunity to enjoy food, music and dancing from my friends from different backgrounds, here in the Manchester community,” he said. “It was also a joy to remember the friends we lost this year.”

Michael Dixon, director of Intercultural Services and chief organizer of the fair, talked about what it takes to pull off an event of such magnitude. “It’s always a large undertaking,” he said. “This is my third fair. There’s a lot that goes into it aside from what people see on the outside and so you have to learn to keep a calm demeanor even though you know that sometimes things are not going according to plan.”

He conveyed special thanks to Salwa Nubani, a senior biology chemistry major from Ramallah, Palestine, and main student leader of the event. “She’s been a great asset with organizing the volunteers and the food,” he remarked. He also acknowledged Bethany Biggs, administrative assistant for the College of Arts and Humanities, who helped with logistics, and all the volunteers, faculty and staff who were a part of the process.