1536570_648000608605897_9161652157293740397_n The annual International Festival took place this past Saturday, April 12. With 23 different countries represented at the festival, it proved an exciting, enticing, and educational event. The students of the Claremont consortium worked together to highlight parts of their culture in a way that was enjoyable for the whole community. While the booths for Saudi Arabia and Taiwan chose to display cultural pieces, others sold ethnic food or performed traditional dances. The students were truly successful in creating a magical day for the whole Claremont community to appreciate these wonderful and diverse cultures.

In case you missed it and would like a taste of some of the food, highlights included the condensed milk buns at the Hong Kong, the kebab, lavash, and jajookh at the Armenian, and the falafel at the Israeli booth. Other favorites included the Waraq Inab, also known as Doma, that was featured at the Arab World booth, which was served with Kanafa and spinach pies. Many students were also delighted to find Ramune, the carbonated soft drink with the glass ball on top, at the Japanese booth.

The festival included other activities that did not necessarily pertain to any particular culture, yet still added some zest to the day. All of the performers at the festival were fantastic, and as an eclectic group they maintained a wonderful aura. There were also booths run by members of the Claremont community, including a dessert table, a booth featuring $1 books, a storytelling booth, arts and crafts, origami, face painting, and a table filled with “trinkets and treasures.”

Donald Delgado, director of I-Place, said these local community members volunteer because they want to support and interact with the students of the 5Cs. Many of these individuals are also involved with the organization Community Friends of International Students, which entails serving as host families and volunteer conversation partners.

Delgado also commented on the planning that goes into the event, which begins nearly a year in advance. Delgado said that he and his staff will start planning for next year’s festival in a few weeks. There is a lot that goes into planning the festival, from ensuring that the event is on the calendar to contracting with rental companies, networking with community members, putting ads in the Claremont Courier, posting fliers around campus, and making sure people hear about the event through word of mouth. The students get involved at the beginning of the spring semester, which gives them chance to create something that is special and unique to them to present at the festival. Students can go shopping for their own supplies, cook their own food, and design and run their own booth. Delgado said that “student activity” is the goal of I-Place in putting on this event. He said the festival is “an opportunity for the international students to showcase their cultures and cuisines and share that with the colleges and the local community,” and holds that the festival is fully focused on the students rather than making money.

Delgado said that after all the preparation had been finished and the hard work put into the event was finally visible, “one of the best feelings was about an hour into the festival when I took a moment to just stop and look around and think ‘wow this is what it’s all about’ and there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people and something really cool is going on on the stage and some little kid comes running by excited by something that they saw and that for me is the high point; right around the middle of the festival when I can look around and say wow we pulled it off, and look at the students and see them have that same reaction.”

Student Zain Jazarra (CMC ’16) spoke about her experience working at the Arab World booth, saying, “I-Place was extremely helpful. When we showed up that morning, everything was in place and everything was accounted for. Our jobs were so easy. Additionally, I was very happy with the results of the festival. Selling was fun; I was ecstatic to share a bit of my culture with everyone. I was especially excited when people loved our food enough to come back and ask for the recipe or even more food.“

Delgado said that in future years, he hopes that students will introduce more of a cultural component. The booths for Saudi Arabia and Taiwan included a whole non-food section with information about their culture, including costumes, clothing, etc. Delgado is hoping to encourage the students to do more of that, so when these international students go home they can look around their homes and neighborhoods and see what is different there that they can bring back for the festival.

I-Place and all its events are open to every student at the Claremont Consortium. These events include but are not limited to: Sunday suppers (four a year), the fall international banquet, lunch and conversation (one in fall for UN day and one in spring for International Women’s day) where a speaker comes for a lunch presentation. They also have fall break activities that change each year: this year they took a camping trip to Malibu. If you’d like to get involved with I-place, or just let them know how much you enjoyed the festival, feel free to contact Donald Delgado at [email protected]