People frequenting Court Street on Saturday got a chance to trade in Chipotle and Jimmy John’s for traditional international food and performances right in the middle of the road.
The annual International Street Fair took place at 11 a.m. on Saturday and was hosted by the International Student Union. Members from about 20 organizations served food, led activities and performed on the main stage throughout the day.
The cheery atmosphere of both domestic and international students combined with the warm weather made the event a perfect way for many students and locals to spend an afternoon.
“What I like the most … is how diverse it is and how students can relate with each other,” Hashim Pashtun, the president of ISU, said.
The event began with a parade of flags from Baker Center to the main stage at the intersection of Court Street and Union Street. Many members of ISU, locals and Ohio University administers, including interim president David Descutner, carried flags down the street to the beat of a drum. The Mayor of Athens Steven Patterson also took a moment to speak at the beginning of the event about the international population of Athens.
“Athens is one community … and we are all welcome here,” Patterson said. “My arms are around all of you.”
Attendees got to indulge in food such as lamb kabobs, Chinese egg pancakes and Thai tea.
Bonnie Wang, a member of the Chinese Cultural Exchange Association, helped serve the egg pancakes and traditional Chinese drinks. The sophomore studying accounting had attended the event last year, but this was her first year working it.
“Here, you can see different cultures and taste different foods,” Wang said. “I think it’s a really good experience.”
The event featured multiple diverse performances, from a Bolivian dancer to a Chinese opera singer. Members of the Korean Language Association performed a dance routine to a K-Pop song and there was also a drum group.
“I think one of the major goals of this kind of event is to mix up the events and (encourage) cross cultural communication,” Pashtun, a doctoral student studying civil engineering, said.
Pashtun has been president of ISU for three years and has led and emceed the event. However, this year will be his last year as Carla Triana will take over as ISU president next semester. Pashtun said he is a bit sad about leaving because of all of the memories he’s created, but he is confident in Triana and her team of executive members. Pashtun was also thankful to all of the member organization and Athens residents for helping make the event a success.
The Turkish American Student Association had a three-table set up with food, art and education activities. Besides serving traditional Turkish food like sarma and Turkish bagels, visitors got to see people creating hand-made bookmarks from a printmaking technique using water.
“For me, (the fair) is an amazing opportunity to advertise my country and my culture,” Mustafa Camur, the treasurer of TASA, said.
One of the most popular tables was held by the Muslim Student Association. Aside from serving sate and vegetable noodles, they had an inside tent where people could sit on a couch, eat free fruit and desserts and look at Islamic art.
“They’re just promoting their culture by inviting everyone else in and showing them what a broad sense of community they have,” Claire Klodell, a freshman studying journalism, said about the MSA display.
It was Klodell’s first time visiting the street fair, and she said it was a great way to spend a Saturday Uptown.
“I’m so happy I came because this is incredible,” Klodell said. “I feel like international week, especially in this political climate, is so important.”