More than 350 students attended the first annual International Fest, a showcase of campus cultural groups, on Sunday afternoon in the Dickinson Amphitheater.
The event had free food, music, as well as henna tattoos, games, fortune telling and other culturally themed activities. International Fest was intended to bridge the gaps between students of different backgrounds.
“With all the stuff going on in the world, it’s really important for a school this diverse to come together because it will only make us stronger and wiser and tolerant,” said Francine Ndjatou, one of the festival’s organizers and a senior majoring in accounting.
The event was also hosted by International Connection and Office of the Vice President of Multicultural Affairs.
“What this campus lacks is unity,” said SA VPMA Carlton Ramsay, a junior double-majoring in economics and biochemistry. “This really explains the importance of the VPMA position to the SA … and hopefully the next VPMA will continue with that.
The festival featured tabling from nearly 50 student groups, along with cultural music and dance performances. Groups involved included Black Dance Repertoire, Arabic Association, French Club, Binghamton Bhangra, JUMP Nation, Hillel-JSU, Sul Poong, the Binghamton Crosbys and MALIK Fraternity Inc.
Quimbamba, Latin American Student Union’s dance team, won for best performance and the Chi Upsilon Sigma sorority won for organization endorsement, based on the votes of attendees.
International Fest was catered by Mediterranean Gyro, Buffet Star and Gances. Some student groups also provided food at their tables, like the Arabic Association, which served homemade hummus and provided the recipe.
Sereena Karsou, a member of the group and a junior double-majoring in environmental studies and philosophy, politics and law, said that they wanted to spread awareness of their club.
“We hope to gain recognition and get the word out there because we haven’t been chartered that long,” Karsou said.
Daniel Bonilla, a junior majoring in English, attended the event. He said the allure of trying new cuisine sold him on coming.
“My friend said there was free food, so I came,” Bonilla said.
He added that once he got there, he learned from the experience.
“I’ve never been exposed to the minority kind of frat life here, so I was interested.”
Planning for the festival began in February. The event was sponsored by the VPMA office as well as the Multicultural Resource Center, International Student and Scholar Services, Convocations and Heart to Heart International.