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2012 Spring Issue 6 (May 11, 2012)

International Fest Excites and Enlivens

May 11, 2012
By Russel Peterson

Amidst the deluge of rain outside, Carleton students celebrated a day of cultural difference and appreciation at this year’s International Fest.

The annual gathering of international students – displaying their cultural heritage through food and performance – took place in the Great Space in Sayles-Hill on Saturday. Due to the stormy weather, the event was relocated from its original venue on the Bald Spot.

Still, many Carleton students and community members braved the trek through growing puddles to partake in this year’s festivities.

The event is a favorite among many students, including first-years Leslie Moore ’15 and Anna Larson ’15.

“I love all of the colorful costumes and, of course, the food,” Moore said, with Larson adding, “I like the variety of both the food and the performances.”

A ticket system was used in the food sampling process, with five tickets being given to try foods from multiple booths. A few of the countries represented at these booths included China, India, Ghana, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Nepal, Brazil, Iceland, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and the United States. The more popular dishes tended to be the Japanese rice cakes, Ghana’s African rice dish, the Momos served by the India and Nepal booths and the Jambalaya at the American booth.

 “It impresses me how talented people are, both in performance and in the kitchen,” said Ray Nelson ’12.

The performances varied from Latin, Bollywood and hula dancing to singing in native tongues. A definite crowd pleaser was the Korean drum performance towards the end of the festival, receiving an enthusiastic round of applause.

Ida Knutsen ’15, one of the directors of entertainment, spoke about the difficulties of bringing together all of the acts.
“Every week we had a meeting to coordinate this event,” he said. “It was quite challenging.”

Originally, the performers had a stage set up for them on the Bald Spot, an unfortunate expense, according to Knutsen, because of the weather.

However, the weather didn’t dampen too many spirits, for many students enjoyed their time despite the indoor setting.
“It would’ve been fun outside, but it’s a nice rainy day activity,” said Julia Reich ’15.

Nelson, having attended the celebration previous years, said, “I’ve been to it when it was both inside and outside. The space doesn’t ruin the experience. It still has the festival atmosphere.”

The festival, whether outside or not, provided moments of cultural awareness, as well as fun and excitement.

“It makes me realize that there are a lot of people from different cultures at Carleton,” Larson said. “Sometimes, we don’t see this side of the international community.”

This year, proceeds from International Fest went to the Northfield charity TORCH (Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes), which aims to increase graduation rates of minority and low-income youth in the community.

 “We chose TORCH because it’s local and very successful,” said International Fest organizer Andry DeJong ’15. “It raised graduation rates of at-risk Northfield high school students by 60 percent.”

In addition to selling food tickets for the charity, an auction was held for a very special prize.

“The top bidder gets to bring four friends to a lunch with the President, Stevie P,” said Kayla Tam ’14. The lunch will take place on May 17.

Looking back on his experiences with International Fest, Nelson became a bit nostalgic.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but my favorite part is seeing everyone come together to partake in the different cultures,” he said. “A solidarity among Carleton students comes out here.”

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