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Country Fair celebrates international student's culture

Published: Friday, October 24, 2008

Updated: Sunday, December 14, 2008 00:12

Despite undeniable signs of rain, the Loyola community gathered in the Peace Quad last Friday afternoon for the annual Country Fair.

The event, which was organized by the International Students Association with support from the University Planning Board and the Student Government Association, was an opportunity to learn more about the international student body and the different cultures on campus.

"To us, Americans are international. Everyone is international to everyone else," biological sciences senior Melissa Sammy said. Sammy serves as president of ISA and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago.

The Country Fair showcased 25 nations through free food and art. While many of the country tables were run by international students, others were run by students who had studied abroad or who had family ties.

"I just found out I was Russian," Tenée Nesbitt, a history junior who ran the Russian table, said. The discovery came from a school project last year.

Without any family recipes to use, she researched Russian cuisine online to come up with the desserts presented at the fair. At the next table over, her sister Ashley, psychology sophomore, oversaw the booth for Ireland. The sisters decided to participate and share different aspects of their heritage. Other tables offered unique cultural aspects of their countries. At the South Korean table, biology sophomore Jawon Lee and Peter Kim wrote out the names of people who stopped by in Korean.

"It's been fun so far. Everyone is getting to know about other cultures," Kim said.

The Israel table, hosted by the Jewish Student Association, presented the hookah, or "nargila" as it's known there, which has become increasingly popular in Israel as it is here in the United States.

"It's a good way to be seen and a good way to talk," Brian Parks, political science senior and a member of the Jewish Student Association, said.

During the entire event, the New York-based music group Casplash performed music from their native Trinidad and Tobago. UPB created "passports" of students by taking their pictures and putting them onto memo pads. Sammy said she believed that working with UPB and SGA helped to make the event a success.

"I think that's what made it big. Everyone was involved - people from all different realms of school activities," she said. ISA coordinated with UPB to have the Country Fair correspond with Third Friday, a monthly event that the organization puts on.

Overall, Sammy thinks that the event was a success. "We had 25 countries, so you traveled basically to 25 different countries while at the fair. You tried 25 different types of cuisine. You spoke to people in 25 different languages and dialects. It's almost like a U.N. conference," she said. "I don't think people realize how much diversity we have on campus."

Masako Hirsch can be reached at mmhirsch@loyno.edu.

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