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Students Share Culture at International Carnival

April 27, 2022 — NMH students enjoyed a chance to share their cultures — and get a taste of their classmates’ cultures — last weekend at the International Carnival, held Saturday evening in Alumni Hall.

“This is an important event because it allows students in affinity groups the opportunity to showcase their culture for their peers,” said Jennifer Keator, a religious studies and philosophy teacher and coordinator of the Global Ambassadors program. “It is also an incredible bonding time for affinity group students as they cook and celebrate together.”

Participating students spent the days leading up to the event preparing dishes from their home cultures. At the carnival, guests moved from table to table, sampling the varied offerings: Chinese white flower soup, arroz con carne, sweet Thai coconut rice, macarons, lasagna, matzah ball soup, brigadeiros (a Brazilian chocolate bon bon), and more.

Tilly Pethrick ’23 said she enjoyed herself so much at last year’s International Carnival that she decided this year to set up her own table, where she offered some treats from her native Australia, which she prepared that morning in her dorm: chocolate crackles, made with puffed rice cereal and cocoa, and fairy bread, a simple birthday-party staple of bread and butter topped with colorful  “hundreds and thousands” (the Australian term for candy sprinkles). She’d also prepared crackers spread with Vegemite. “It’s an acquired taste,” Pethrick said of the brewer's yeast and vegetable-based spread, but she loves it, and she was hopeful others would give it a try.

Tory Tran ’23 has spent the morning preparing vermicelli noodles with grilled pork for the Vietnamese Students Association’s table. “It was a favorite of mine growing up,” she said. It was also, apparently, also a favorite of the crowd that evening; by 30 minutes into the carnival, the dish was gone, to Tran’s delight. “My favorite part is seeing people try our food and see their faces light up,” she said. 

Cuisine wasn’t the only way students shared their cultures: The International Carnival also included a performance by the NMH World Music Percussion Ensemble, which played traditional African rhythms on instruments from Africa, South Korea, and South America. “I created the [ensemble] to represent the music of all the students’ ethnic backgrounds,” said Ron Smith, director of band and jazz programs. “Many of them play traditional instruments from their country.”

For Keator, the International Carnival is an opportunity to build connections within and across student groups and to bring both awareness and joy to the campus community. “I hope this event highlights the continuing legacy of diversity that was first established under D.L. Moody,” she said. “Diversity is not new to NMH — it is part of its origin.”

Check out photos from the International Carnival in our Flickr album.