58th international fair shows diverse cultures

Photos of students dancing and gathering at international fair
Courtesy of Brian White

International Students of Lewis & Clark (ISLC) hosted the 58th International Fair from Feb. 28 to March 4. 

As part of the fair, Fields Dining Hall served meals from all over the world. The fair closed with its main event, a display fair in Stamm at 11:30 a.m., followed by dances and songs performed by students in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel.

ISLC Vice-President Igor Gromovic ’25 was responsible for organizing the event. One focus of his organizational style was ensuring regions were given a similar amount of airtime.

“Well, for the performances, we tried to include as many regions as possible,” Gromovic said. “Of course, we were limited by some regions because we didn’t have enough people who wanted to participate or perform. But I tried to make all the regions (be) seen equal.” 

In addition to students not wanting to perform, not all countries have the same amount of student representatives at LC. 

“For some countries who only have one student from that country,we tried to join countries in regions rather than representing individual countries unless the students want to do that,” Gromovic said. “For example, we had China represented as only China. While Eastern Europe was represented as Eastern Europe so then Bosnia was a part of that.”

Gromovic is from Bosnia, although he did not participate in any Eastern European performances. He was backstage, making sure the event kept running smoothly. 

Amy Xu ’24 performed in a dance for her home country of China. The performance was set to “Lian Ai Gao Ji,” which is currently popular in China. Additionally, Xu represented her home country at the display fair by setting out snacks and wearing a hanfu, a formal outfit for weddings and graduation ceremonies. “It is important to share our culture to the whole school,” Xu said.

Mary Onja ’25, who is training to be a professional mental health counselor at the graduate school, was similarly grateful for the space the fair offered.

“The fair gives us an opportunity to showcase our culture,” Onja said. “It’s a thing of pride really, to show what my culture is about.”

Onja is from Nigeria and was also pleased with the fair’s reception and its role in combating global stereotypes. She called it an “opportunity to display the good things about Africa.”

Lati Fatru Savabogo ’24 is from Burkina Faso, a country kitty-corner to Onja’s birthplace.  

“I think it is everything,” Fatru Savabogo said. “I’m homesick right now, it let me see the good things about my culture.”

The fair serves as a reminder of the global diversity in the LC community. Gromovic traveled 5,833 miles to get here, Xu traveled 5,901, Fatru Savabogo 7,030 and Onja 7,556. Not to mention the change in culture, language and overall absence of connections. 

Xu chose to come to LC because of a single relationship.

“One of my friends was here before so I just decided to come with,” Xu said.

The 58th iteration of the fair offered a safe space that meant a lot to the LC international community, it was a way to connect back to the distant places where most of their loved ones remain. 

“I’m pretty happy with how it went,” Gromovic said. “I had really great feedback at the end of the performance yesterday, and people were really happy with what they saw and the people who performed are also happy. I’m glad I managed not to put too much stress on people who participated.” 

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