Members of the Saudi Student Association. Left to right: Sondos Alsaati, Dina Binmansour, Sarah Ahmed, Rami Alboqmi and Nasser Alqahtani. photo by Gabe Powell

International Bazaar opportunity for cultural exchange

The event centered around showcasing the people, foods and cultures from countries around the world.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. This is just one of many facts attendees learned at the International Bazaar on Friday night. Hosted by the Association of International Students in the Allen Chapman Student Union on Nov. 15, the International Bazaar featured 10 booths representing students from all over the world. There were clubs representing countries as far as Brazil, China, Russia, Nigeria and the Caribbean.

The event featured native foods and dress from the students’ country of origin. Early in the event, there was a parade where the international students’ clubs walked on stage in the clothing of their ethnic heritage and displayed props representing features of their respective countries. Awards were given to the best booth (Saudi Student Association), best in parade (China) and audience choice (Russia).

The Saudi booth featured a drapery hung on a wooden frame, a carafe serving traditional Arabic coffee and cushions for club members to sit on as they explained aspects of Saudi culture. They served Vimto, a delicious beverage made of fruit juices.

Rami Alboqmi, the president of Saudi Student Association, gladly talked about his culture to any passerby, describing how his culture teaches “us how to respect others, how to help them and how to provide help and do not ask for [it back in] return. This is our world, all the time. [We] do not wait for someone to say, ‘thank you.’ This is part of our culture.”

Sarah Ahmed, a member of the Saudi Student Association, says the club is actively working to eliminate stereotypes that some Americans hold about Saudi Arabians. She says some stereotypes that she’d like to eliminate include that everyone is very religious. She compared welcoming religion in Saudi Arabia to liking different colors. “Like, it seems like everyone likes a color, and you like blue and I like, for example, pink, and I don’t force you to like pink.”
Some of the clubs present at the event were newly founded and were still in the process of being chartered. The Vietnam student club, VASA, was started this year by the sophomore President Duy Linh Nguyen.

Katelyn Hoang of VASA described the founding of the club, saying, “This is our first year being a club. We had a karaoke night in our president’s apartment where we had people sing their culture’s music. We did a presentation about Vietnamese culture in our first formal meeting.”

Some of the cultural food at the event included the Brazilian club’s excellent pieces of chocolate and bite-sized pieces of cheese, the Indonesian club’s sweets like corn fritters and steamed tapioca, and the Nigerian Student Association’s tasty rice and a dough pastry called “puff puff.”

Njieno Anon, a member of the newly created Nigerian Student Association, described his motivation for founding the club. “This is my second year here. I remember in [my] Freshman year, I saw there was a lack of African student associations, so I thought I would start the Nigerian Student Association to expose people to my culture.”

Post Author: Gabe Powell