On Thursday, Feb. 29, the Bengali Student Association (BSA) and Thai Student Organization (TSO) organized the BSA X TSO Street Food Fair, an event that marked the first collaboration between the two organizations. The event was scheduled between 5:30 and 7 p.m. in Binghamton University Union 102.

Upon arrival at the event, attendees were immediately hit with the savory aroma wafting over from a well-stocked buffet of Bengali and Thai street food. They had the choice of either taking part in the multitude of childhood games and activities stationed around the room, or digging into some delectable snacks in the buffet area. Guests got the chance to partake in the art of origami, a Bengali cops-and-robbers-esque game and the massive amounts of Bengali and Thai street food prepared by their respective organizations.

Wasif Shamsul, a freshman double-majoring in political science and economics, was particularly excited about getting a long-awaited taste of his home.

“I want to try out some Thai food,” Shamsul said. “I’m familiar with the Bengali snacks because I’m Bengali, like the Fuchka. It’s gonna be nice because I haven’t been home for a while, so it will be like a little taste of home.”

Shamsul elaborated on Bengali street food, explaining what makes it different from street food in other cultures.

“Bengali street food is similar to a lot of other street food, but we also put our own spin on it,” Shamsul said. “I know in India, there’s a variant of Fuchka called Panipuri. It’s nice to enjoy a Bengali dish and see how we differ from other cultures.”

Shamsul went on to describe the impact that events like this one could have on the campus community.

“It’s important to show multiculturalism,” Shamsul said. “A lot of people here are from different and diverse cultures, so it’s really nice to have events with multiple cultures and show off that we are a diverse campus. It’s also a great way for people to come and have a little fun, especially with midterms coming up. It’s nice to destress, hang out with friends and grab some food.”

Multiculturalism guided organization efforts. The fair brought together two major campus cultural organizations to celebrate the street foods of their respective cultures.

Ushima Chowdhury, the president of the BSA and a junior majoring in biochemistry, echoed this sentiment.

“Last semester, we had the idea to have a street food fair,” Chowdhury said. “At first it wasn’t a collaboration, but then I realized that street food is something that is prevalent in every culture, and so in presenting street food, I didn’t just want to showcase our cultures — we wanted to demonstrate the similarities and diversity between multiple of our cultures.”

Chowdhury explained the origin of the collaboration.

“TSO is an organization we’ve never collaborated with before, and I feel like that’s something people might not really think would happen,” Chowdhury said. “But they were the first people we reached out to. We started planning over last winter break, and it came alive today.”

The centerpiece of the event was the street food. Prepared at the fair was a variety of Bengali and Thai cuisine for any attendee to enjoy. Chowdhury gave some insight into the decisions that were made in choosing dishes for the big night.

“Fuchka and Jhalmuri are two of the most representative dishes,” Chowdhury said. “We host Pohela Boishakh every year and those are two dishes that we always try to provide because they’re some of the most popular Bengali dishes. These are dishes that are very commonly available in food trucks so people of all different classes and all different economic levels are able to eat it.”

Evan Delwar, cultural chair of TSO and a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, gave some more details as to how this planning took shape.

“The main inspiration for the food was from our actual home countries,” Delwar said. “A lot of these are actual foods that you would find there. For example, BSA picked Fuchka, which is a really fast street food. Even if you go to the city, places like Jackson Heights — you’ll see them there all the time. For TSO, we picked things like chicken sautee, which is what we commonly do for fundraisers. It’s stuff where, if you go to the streets of Thailand, everyone’s eaten it.”

Delwar gave another perspective on the impact of multiculturalism in similar events.

“We just noticed that there’s sort of a divide between the multiple Asian communities on campus, and we thought it would be nice to get them to collaborate and build a connection,” Delwar said. “Particularly between Thai and Bengali culture, we noticed that there’s a lot of overlap in popular street food — how it’s a central part of our culture. People walk on the streets, and you’ll see markets everywhere and other stuff like that.”

Delwar summed up the event in its entirety.

“We really want to get our general bodies to interact, not just our E-Boards,” Delwar said. “It’s great to give them an outlet not only to enjoy the food but to enjoy the games and culture of their home countries.”

After an evening of street food and childhood games, guests left with their bellies full and smiles on their faces. It was a night of food and multicultural celebration for both organizations.