The Students Without Borders cross-cultural group is preparing for Dordt’s annual Cultural Fair on Saturday, March 2, from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm.
Linda Schroedermeier, International and Off-Campus Coordinator, remembers the Cultural Fair when she attended Dordt in 2005. She recalls the fair as being a smaller-scale event back then, but over the years the fair has taken on various changes. Part of the reason that the event is bigger now is because the number of international students at Dordt has grown. There are currently 52 international students enrolled at Dordt.
Schroedermeier has been working at Dordt for three years, and when she started, the Cultural Fair was divided into two separate events. A fashion show took place in December, and the fair itself took place sometime in April. However, the Student Without Borders group merged these two events, and now both the fashion show and fair take place on the same day.
To kick the events off, there will be a time to mingle and walk around from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Students, faculty, and the community are invited to enjoy games, various activities, food, and posters that share the different cultures represented at Dordt.
“This is a really good place for students to meet new people and learn about different cultures,” Schroedermeier said.
From 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., the audience can sit back and enjoy the international fashion show. This will include singing, dancing, and viewing students in their traditional clothing from their respective countries.
According to Schroedermeier, many countries will be included in the night’s events, including Paraguay, Nicaragua, Brazil, Korea, Canada, and the United States.
“For 364 days of the year, international students are adapting to American culture, and this is a cool way for international students to get one day of the year to talk about and display their own culture,” Schroedermeier said.
Dordt Senior, Yoseph Kigeneh, has participated in the Cultural Fair for the past three years. He is thinking of participating this year by representing his country, Ethiopia.
“My favorite part of the cultural fair is to see students proudly representing their countries and sharing their culture and traditions through food, language, and traditional attire,” Kigeneh said. He also mentioned enjoying the games and other items that uniquely represent the various countries, such as African wood carvings, Middle Eastern henna tattoos, and Korean manuscripts.
“The most important thing that American students learn from international students is cultural diversity. The cultural fair is an opportunity for both international and American students to learn more about each other and cherish the beauty that they find in their differences,” Kinegeh said.
During his freshman and sophomore years at the Cultural Fair, Kinegeh participated in the fashion show and wore his cultural attire that he brought from home. He also introduced his country and answered questions at the Ethiopian Booth.
His junior year, he served as the MC for the fair. This year, he plans on being the MC with Deborah Tyokighir, a Dordt sophomore from Nigeria. He will also help his Ethiopian friends prepare a “mildly spiced Ethiopian food.”
“If there is anyone who loves spicy food, I recommend that they try our spicy Ethiopian cuisine that will be available at our booth,” Kinegeh added.
Although the day is very important and special to the international students, there are not just international students in the Students Without Borders group. There are also students who are simply interested in other cultures.
While most of the students participating will be international students, Schroedermeier said that there will also be students who grew up as missionaries or went overseas. Some students go overseas and have such a “significant formative experience” that they want to share the culture that they got the privilege to experience, Schroedermeier explained.
The Cultural Fair is a free event where people get to experience “international flair,” Schroedermeier said.
Amber Vis, Staff Writer