By Nick Sabatini
For the 53rd year in a row, the International Students of Lewis & Clark College (ISLC) hosted the International Fair.. The theme of this year’s fair was “Breaking Down Cultural Stereotypes” and was focused on bringing cultural global awareness to Lewis & Clark. The fair went from Feb. 26 to March 3, and events included short documentary screenings of “Peanut Butter, Jelly, Racism” and “Check Our Bias to Wreck Our Bias,” a world poetry night, samples of international food, a fashion show and a stage performance choreographed and presented by students.
The main event of the International Fair was on March 3; food from different cultures were served in both Stamm and Fields Dining Hall in lieu of brunch. Activities at display tables allowed people to stamp their passports for the chance to win prizes. In order to fit with this year’s theme of breaking down cultural stereotypes, this year also featured “the wall,” an interactive art piece which allowed students to write and share their experiences of being stereotyped onto notes. Twelve different regions from around the world were represented in the fair.
“I have been coming for approximately 40 years,” Joann Geddes, a retired faculty member and former Director of Academic English Studies, said. “This year is special because I have retired and now I am able to come back and meet some students that I don’t know, and it’s wonderful to see the students outside of the classroom and learn their background and a little bit more about their past and their culture.”
Sara Cascallar ’21 is a student from Madrid, Spain, and she enjoyed sharing her culture in the International Fair.
“I’m participating in the International Fair because I think it is really fun to represent your country and teach people in the US stuff about your culture that they wouldn’t know,” Cascallar said. “People generally want to know your culture so it is fun to represent it and share it.”
Ayumi Hida ’19 was another student who participated in the International Fair. She is from Japan and participated in cooking and dancing during the fair.
“I’m from Japan,” Hida said via email. “(through presentation and performing dance), I thought we could share that there are many many fun things like animation and sushi or like that in Japan. I … know that making something like a performance with some friends is sometimes difficult, but very interesting.”
The event was also attended by non-LC students. Lara Freitas, a sophomore at Lincoln High School, is an exchange student from Austria and is involved in American Field Service (AFS) Intercultural, which allowed her to connect to the event. AFS Intercultural is a major youth exchange organization. Freitas said she enjoyed the event because it allowed her to meet people and understand other cultures, along with their stereotypes. Additionally, being a high school student, she believed the event was a great way to publicize the college.
Bridget Flaherty, Assistant Director of International Students & Scholars, said that the International Fair went well this year.
“We heard lots of positive feedback from the people who attended both the brunch and the performance, including students, staff, faculty, and local community members,” Flaherty said via email. “The ISLC and Region Chairs put in a lot of time and effort to plan the event, and it showed.”
Flaherty said that this year, ISLC expanded the International Fair beyond a one day event. The organization will host a workshop with writer Ari Sotak on April 5 to facilitate a forum for multicultural members of the college to talk about their experiences at Lewis & Clark. The event will open to the entire LC community.