Cultural Fair Draws Local Community

Eric Rowe-Staff Writer

From the blue, yellow and green of Rwanda to the red, white and blue of Paraguay, flags and traditional clothing brought color and life to the Grille area as the Students Without Borders club hosted its annual celebration of Dordt students’ diverse cultures and backgrounds this past Saturday on Feb. 18.

Freshman attendee Alisha Giesselmann felt surprised by how many students she recognized.

Speaking about her interaction with other students, Giesselmann said, “I either didn’t know you weren’t American or I kinda knew, but I didn’t know which [country] you were from.”

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Jazmin Mendieta plays the guitar during the cultural fair. 

“Hey,” she said, “I get to learn more about you in a very awesome way.”

The cultural fair and fashion show is one of the few college club events that draws entire families from the community.

Drums and music mixed with the noise of the crowd as young children, retired couples and everyone in between enjoyed an atmosphere not native to traditional northwest Iowan culture.

Around 20 booths were set up in the Grille area, each one representing a different country. From 5-7 p.m. people could ask questions, eat food samples and play games from the respective cultures.

One popular game this year was ttakji from South Korea. It involved trying to flip an opponent’s folded square of paper by slamming it with your own card.

The henna tattoo booth was another hit, with some attendees standing in line for over 20 minutes.

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Christina Chahyadi admires her henna  handiwork.

The fashion show started around 7 p.m. and featured nine different cultures’ traditional dress.

Freshman Kevin Coleman’s shirt from Ghana, boasting a bold blue and yellow pattern, made an impression on theatre professor Josiah Wallace.

“I want that shirt,” Wallace said. “Everyone should want these clothes.”

The theme of interesting colors and patterns continued throughout the fashion show with Indonesian Batik fabric and floral printed Japanese yukata, a type of summer kimono.

“You don’t encounter this clothing here,” senior Emily Postma said, who referred to the t-shirts and jeans attire of daily Dordt as “very basic.”

The performance aspect of the fair featured music from Korea, a poem from the Netherlands recited by Janneke deBoer, a ceremony honoring the Indonesian flag and a drum performance from Ariel and Michel Gomes.

Nathan Ryder ran the Australia booth because his father is from that country. Kalenga Njamba, a senior from Australia felt like he didn’t have to do anything except bring his accent, and yet Ryder appreciated the authority and knowledge that Njamba could offer.

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Michael Gomes, Kalenga Njamba, Nathan Ryder, & Kyle Fosse ready for the fashion show.  

“When someone asked a question about Australia, he didn’t have to say, ‘Well, my dad…,’” Ryder said.

Senior Kyle Fosse and freshman Livingstone Lee emceed the fashion show and performances.

The evening ended with a prayer in Nigerian by sophomore Matthew Ojo and a group picture of all the students who participated.

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