student life

World’s Fare shares global cultures

The event began in the lobby where the international associations set up their booths, and the quartet Brazil Pandeiro played a mixture of traditional and contemporary Brazilian music.

Each attendee received a ticket that could be punched for eight food samples of their choice.

Sami Alsalmi, an Intensive English Program student representing the Saudi Arabia Student Club, served saleeg. The rice and beef dish is the most popular food in his country, he said.

He saw the event as an opportunity not only to share his culture but to learn about others.

“As a Saudi, I don’t know about Japan, Korea,” Alsalmi said. ”I would like to learn about other countries.”

Graduate student Anthony Ross also enjoyed the educational

“It’s a great way to see world cultures and get introduced to their cuisine,” Ross said. He tried a wide selection of samples, from Chinese braised tofu to Thai iced tea.

“The dishes were all very unique in their flavor,” he said.

The Office of International Services and Union Board collaborated to host the World’s Fare.

It was the fare’s first time in the new venue. For the last five years it was in the Indiana Memorial Union. 

“Every year I feel good about how we bring the international groups together,” said Sandy Britton, OIS associate director for student life. “They put a lot of effort into showcasing their cultures.”

IMU Catering provided the food.

Damian Esposito, executive chef of IMU Catering, worked the event for the fourth time.
“It’s a lot of ethnic food, and we don’t usually get that many requests for ethnic food, at least not in this volume, from 21 different countries for 2,000 people.” Esposito said.

Before the event, each student organization presented three or four recipes, and Esposito helped select one from each organization to create a balanced menu. IMU Catering included drinks for the first time this year, such as Indian mango lassi and Kazakh tea.

Drawing the crowd away from the food and toward the international associations’ performances on the auditorium stage was difficult, said emcee Daniel Whitmer, OIS associate director of sponsored students.

“I don’t know whose idea it was to bring food here, but it seems people are enjoying it,” he said to the crowd.

He first announced the four winners of the international photo contest and proceeded to present the eight performances by IU international student organizations.

Bloomington resident Kyunghee Mun, who moved to the U.S. from South Korea 14 years ago, clapped and laughed throughout the show.

“It’s hilarious,” she said. “I love the emcee.”

Her favorite performance was by the Indonesian Student Association, which featured a live band and a medley of traditional folksongs. One student ran across the stage waving the Indonesian flag.

“It represented their culture,” Mun said. “It was very patriotic.”

The first-place performance award went to the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, which presented a graceful traditional dance. The female performers danced with bright-pink fans and wore light-blue costumes that glowed under the stage lights.

Second place was shared by the Indonesian Student Association and the Malaysian Student Association, while third place was awarded to the African Student Association.

Awards for the best displays were also given. The Uzbek Student Association won the first-place award, though this was its first year at the event.

“I was proud to be part of it for the first time,” said Mahmuda Saydumaroua, graduate student and vice president of the Uzbek association. “That’s why it was amazing to win.”

The event brought together the IU campus, international students, faculty  and the Bloomington community.

“To be able to share culture and friendship together truly is a great privilege, isn’t it?” Whitmer said.

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