From the food they served to the clothing they wore, each member of the International Club proudly represented a country at the Cultural Fair last Sunday. The event welcomed students who wanted to learn more about another country’s heritage and those who simply wanted to have fun.
“I think it’s really helpful to have people addressing their culture and talk about why they’re at Hillsdale,” freshman Sebrena Geier said.
Senior Nour Ben Hmieida said this fair brought together all the international students and the diverse cultures they came from, as a way to share their backgrounds with the student body. The fair was last held in 2016, but with the increased amount of financial support and members, the club was able to pull this event off, Ben Hmieida said.
“We’ve been trying to build the international community again and this event helps with that,” she said.
Each table represented two countries and each country was managed by either international students or students who come from immigrant parents.
Junior Genesis Arreola said attaching a friendly face to each culture helps invite students to learn more about a culture they don’t know about, especially when it’s one of their classmates.
“This event helps make the international students feel comfortable sharing their culture with students here,” Arreola said.
Ben Hmieida represented her home country, Libya, and provided handouts regarding Libya’s history and culture, and samplings of dates and olives, ingredients that are commonly used in Libyan dishes, and also eaten by themselves.
“We use them a lot in Libya in different dishes, but I didn’t have time to make the actual dishes, so I thought I would bring parts of it to share,” Ben Hmieida said.
Taking pride in her ancestry, Arreola represented Mexico by wearing a traditional Mexican dress and displaying commonly-used Mexican kitchen tools that most Americans are not familiar with, such as molcajete — a stone bowl used to make salsa with a matching stone grinder — and a tortilla press.
She also served gelatin-based desserts and rectangular coconut candies, both dyed to represent Mexico’s flag.
“A lot of our desserts are gelatin-based while most of our candies are very bright and fruit-flavored. I also have aguas fresca, which are very popular drinks in the summer, they’re similar to juices but a little more water-based. And I also have horchata, which is the iconic rice water,” she said.
Arreola said a lot of students don’t realize how diverse Hillsdale is. Many students come from varying backgrounds, and this event raises that awareness, while helping the international students feel more comfortable talking about their heritage as well.
“I come from a really diverse background, so coming to Hillsdale was a bit of a culture shock. But the International Club really helped me because I could share my culture and people were very interested in it, and I could learn about all these different cultures as well,” Arreola said. “The club is very much a family.”