Sherin Zadah CM ’17 hovered over the Arab World table in Claremont McKenna College’s North Mall April 11, handing out mouth-watering grape leaves and spinach pines. She and her fellow volunteers took turns managing the table and chatting with visitors.
“It’s going very well,” she said. “There’s been about a month of preparation, and it’s definitely one of my favorite events of the year.”
The Arab World table was part of CMC’s 37th Annual International Festival, a day featuring craft stalls, book booths, unique performances and a number of elaborate country booths. It was presented by International Place and the International Students of the Claremont Colleges, and many of the volunteers were students.
Place—commonly known as I-Place—is an international and multicultural center
for the Claremont Colleges located on CMC’s campus. Its goal is to increase
both friendship and understanding across cultures. In a time rife with international turmoil, I-Fest aimed to do just that.
Each country booth featured a hand-painted
sign, flag, cultural items and food or beverages. Visitors purchased tickets
that they used to get food, drinks and other treats.
Zadah’s Arab World table was put on by MENA, the Middle East and North Africa Club at the 5Cs. The Philippines booth was also popular, offering rice, lumpia (which are
similar to spring rolls) and palitaw, a sweet rice cake similar to the popular
Japanese dessert, mochi.
’17, a two-year veteran of I-Fest, served as the volunteer at the Philippines
year I was just roaming around, but being behind the booth is a different
experience,” he said. “It’s great to interact with people while they taste your
food in a very open-minded space. We’ve received a lot of positive responses,
and it definitely makes me want to do it again next year.”
However, preparation for I-fest was time-consuming. Transporting the food was also
difficult, but it ultimately paid off—by the end of the event, nearly all the
food from the Philippines booth had been sold.
other tables had sold out food as well. Visitors flocked to different tables
and dined on a number of international dishes. Favorites included blini from
Russia, coconut curry chicken kabobs from Armenia, Italian mozzarella in Carrozza and Ecuadorian ceviche.
Visitors also were treated to a variety of beverage choices, from Taiwanese boba tea (a beverage
that contains tapioca balls) to a Peruvian corn drink called chicha morada,
to old-fashioned lemonade.
culture was also spread through books, music and dance.
booth offered craft activities for children, while another sold books on a variety
of topics—from calculus to feminism—for low prices. On the stage near
Collins Dining Hall, several groups performed numbers, including a mariachi
band and the 5C dance group Groove Nation.
had a really nice time,” said Valerie Taylor PO ’18, who was initially
interested because of her Chinese heritage and knowledge of the Spanish
language. “Everyone was so friendly and explained both the dishes and the
culture very well. I definitely want to get involved next year and possibly
even help make food!”
was beautiful,” added Haley Ferguson PO ’18. “It really brought the 5Cs to life and reminded me of the
importance of connecting communities, from Claremont residents and college
students to people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.”