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International Fair highlights cultural diversity

by Breonnah Colón - Lifestyles Editor
Wed, Mar 28th 2018 12:00 am

Imagine walking into a dining room full of people from all different backgrounds: doctors, lecturers and librarians all previously strangers, but sitting amongst each other like old friends. Their children playing together as if they’ve known each other their whole lives. 

A Japanese origami tutorial is midway through, keeping guests occupied as they wait for their food. The dishes themselves unique in their own right: a Brazilian pork dish accompanied by vegetables seasoned with curry and goulash to accompany the entrees. As an alternative, fried chicken cutlets are offered as well as vegetarian sushi, a mix of carrots, cucumber and avocado wrapped in the traditional rice roll. 

Available drinks are water, ginger root tea and Moroccan mint tea. In the center of the room, among all the hubbub, is a table full of trinkets and other souvenirs, all available for purchase.  

A distinctive and interesting environment to say the least, and for many, this is the farthest thing from a typical dinner at The College at Brockport. However, this was the exact scene at the International Fair, which took place on Tuesday, March 20. 

Honoring the diversity present at the college as well as highlighting the benefits of studying abroad, the fair showed just how impactful and fruitful being open to different cultures can be.

With practically a full venue, it was difficult to find a seat amidst the tables sprawled throughout the room as row upon row of seats were already occupied. Rather than give latecomers a feeling of spurning, the crowd allowed for a more communal environment, where people were invited to sit with others, regardless of there being no prior relationship. This sort of seating allowed for conversation to flow where it otherwise may not have, helping those in attendance feel more at home and less out of place. 

The way food was served also helped with the communal feeling that took place throughout the night. Rather than have a traditional serving, where everyone went up to one place and was served convection-belt-style, food was distributed to tables and shared amongst guests almost the way food would be shared at home, with each person passing one dish to another. 

When one table ran out of a dish or hadn’t yet had one, different tables would share their food. This trend continued throughout the night, ensuring everyone had their fill.

Origami lessons were not the only form of entertainment presented. There was also traditional flamenco music, traditional chinese dance and a performance of the Sankofa African dance. There certainly was no emphasis on one culture or another. 

Over the course of the night, it was very apparent that each culture offered its own influence in a different way. The night concluded with the results of a silent auction, where guests competed against one another to buy different items from across the world brought back by Brockport students who traveled abroad throughout the year. 

Some countries represented through the gifts available for auction were Nepal and Bangladesh. While the event was mainly focused on international connections and bringing its audience out of the small Brockport community, there were also gifts for those interested in a more local area, where a Wegmans gift basket was up for grabs and for a lucky winner.

Many times the issue of diversity is one that’s not considered important in the eyes of students. Students of color in particular have frequently voiced the thought that the college hasn’t done much to improve or maintain its diversity. 

Events like the International Fair give students and community members alike a taste of the diversity that is indeed present on campus, as well as a look at the potential to continue to grow and become even more diverse in the future. 



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