Visitors to Syre Student Center on Thursday, Nov 17, were greeted with music and an explosion of color, art, and culture.
In honor of International Education Week and the visit of a State Department official, the international students of Whatcom Community College decided to throw a fair expressing and celebrating their cultures. Because these students are here on a grant from the State Department, called the Northwest Community College Initiative, Iris Metzgen-Ohlswager, the hospitality program coordinator, said that they had a fair so the State Department official could see what the students are doing here.
Students from places such as Turkey, Indonesia, and India manned colorful booths displaying their pride in the art, food, and music that make up their cultures.
One booth was decorated with large pictures of Indian foods, books of colorful bills featuring the face of Mohandas Gandhi, jeweled, handmade diaries and a map of India. Pradeep Kumar, of Delhi, stood smiling in a pale blue robe, which is traditional formal wear for Indian men.
“I am a full-ride student,” Kumar said, his English perfect, his smile white. He is one of Whatcom’s hospitality students. “They chose me for the program,” he says, and smiles. He hands a passersby a keychain with small plastic replicas of Indian currency.
Gerry Large’s beginning acting class stood by the stairs in the hallway, watching, overwhelmed. “You know what,” said Ian Mackinnon, 26, with a laugh and an enthusiastic wave of his hand. “I didn’t know this was going on.”
Mackinnon laughs again. “I love culture; it’s neat to see all the different art. And I love food,” he says, and grins.