Study abroad programs have soared in popularity in recent years. Wanting to experience new environments and learn about new places, American students head overseas in search of adventure. As students fly from the U.S. to Europe, Asia, and Latin America, more and more students from around the globe are also choosing to pursue higher education in the U.S. In past years, the Claremont Colleges have steadily increased the proportion of the student body that is international.
For over three decades, the annual International Festival at the Claremont Colleges has been a celebration for international students to gather and share a part of their home cultures with the community. The event features delicious cuisine and fun activities from various cultures. Last Saturday, International Place (I-Place) held the 38th International Festival on the main quad of Claremont McKenna College. The event attracted students and community members with a wide array of delicacies and live entertainment.
I-Place, located on CMC's campus, is the international office of the Claremont Colleges. It hosts various events and off-campus trips throughout the school year to increase awareness and involvement of internationality and cultural exchange. The International Autumn Gala and the International Festival are two of the center's most popular multinational celebrations.
On Saturday, live music from the temporary stage next to Collins Dining Hall could be heard before even stepping onto CMC's campus. A number of student clubs and organizations took this opportunity to present aspects of shared cultures and talents alongside professional artists who were invited by I-Place. Eleven groups performed throughout the festival, providing the audience with a peek at different cultures from around the world. Performances included Japanese Taiko drummers, an Arab music ensemble, Mexican dance, Classical Indian dance, and Ancient Chinese dance, each enchanting their enthusiastic audiences.
Ali Wang PO ’19, an international student from China, presented a solo Chinese dance called “Reading the Story of the Butterfly Lover.” She said she decided to perform because “the International Festival is a great opportunity to show people stuff from your own country and culture.” She added, “There were many good cultural booths, and they were selling a lot of food.”
Guests were welcome to walk around the quad to enjoy the many cultural booths where students from different regions of the world prepared special artifacts and cuisines to sample and purchase. Popular options included Philippine eggrolls and Italian tiramisu.
“My favorite part of International festival was seeing all the different cultures that students get together to share parts of their cultures. It was nice being able to mingle with my friends and walk around,” Marissa Sihapanya PO ’19 said. “The eggrolls from the Philippines table—they are just so good.”
There were also a variety of family and children-friendly activities offered. Some booths had arts and crafts, balloons, and free face-painting, while others sold clothing and decorations. Visitors of all ages were kept entertained.
The event would not have been possible if it were not for months of planning by I-Place. Many volunteers worked behind the scenes to help organize, manage, and transport the supplies that contributed to the success of 38th International Festival.
“I really liked how people were enjoying themselves,” said Wang. As the international student population continues to grow, students can expect that the annual International Festival will continue to delight with even more cultural heritage to be shared.