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Currents: international festival

2010 International Festival Celebrates the Cultural Diversity of our College Community

The Cross Cultural Club held its annual International Festival on March 25 in Wheeler Hall featuring the Peruvian band, Inkaswasi. The festival included 20 table displays from around the world, along with ethnic foods, a cultural fashion show, and workshops in dance and flute. Participants could also have their faces painted, watch a demonstration of Japanese calligraphy or enter an international photography contest. The year's event also welcomed the Empty Bowls project, with student artists' ceramic work for sale, and a study abroad fair, which hightlighted ten different study abroad programs that students can participate in.

The festival, a favorite campus event every year, catered to both college and community members and was the result of months of planning by members of the Cross Cultural Club. These students were responsible for handling publicity and recruiting international students and staff to create table displays. They also bought materials and decorated the hall and coordinated with Sodexo, which serves international foods in the dining hall on festival day. For our international students, the festival offers a place to showcase their culture and teach others about some of their foods and traditions. For those who attend, it is a way to experience the global village right here in New London.

“This was the largest and most successful festival I've attended in my time at Colby-Sawyer. It was great to see so many people turn out to appreciate and learn about the many countries represented by our students, as well as to soak up the phenomenal Inkaswasi performance!” said Kayleigh Flynn, a third-year American student and member of the Cross Cultural Club. "A special surprise came at the end of the night when most of the international students danced in a circle to the music, holding flags from their countries. What an awesome sight!"

Abhiyan Thapaliya, a first-year student from Nepal and treasurer of the Cross Cultural Club, summed up the festival as follows: “The event is important for Colby-Sawyer because it emphasizes the diversity we have on campus. It is a time when American students can come and learn about cultures from around the world. Also, they can taste some good food! Having events like this also helps prospective international students know that our campus cares about their identity. I was anticipating this event and enjoyed being involved. The festival turned out exactly the way I thought it would - amazing. I enjoyed being around fellow international students, learning more about their traditions and sharing mine. I enjoyed the band and loved the positive response we got. My favorite part was presenting my table display. I enjoyed talking to people and telling them about my culture. I loved how surprised they were when they heard the differences between our cultures.”

Thanks to the hard work of Cross Cultural Club President Julia Ye Zhu and all the club's members, the college and surrounding community members enjoyed an evening of music, fashion, food and culture from around the world.

For more information about the Cross Cultural Club, contact advisor Cindy Benson or explore the Facebook page “Cross Cultural Club at Colby-Sawyer College” with lots of photos taken at the festival.

-Cindy Benson

Cindy Benson is an advisor to international students and to the Cross Cultural Club. Photos by Gil Talbot.