The International Street Fair is scheduled to be held for the first time in two years Saturday as part of International Week at Ohio University.
The International Student Union, or ISU, is working with the city of Athens to put on the event, which will include a flag parade that starts at 10:30 a.m. at Baker University Center and ends at Howard Park, food from around the world and speeches from city and student leaders. The street fair is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Throughout the day, there will be performances by different organizations, including the Chubu University students at OU; PERMIAS, an Indonesian Student Association at OU, and the Ark Band from Columbus.
The theme for International Week is “Fostering Connections: Together We Can, Together We Will” because ISU's goal for the event is to build connections between the community and international students. ISU has continued to partner with the city of Athens on the street fair since 1982 to achieve that goal.
“It is important for us to keep that connection (to the city) going,” Diane Cahill, director of international services and operations at OU and adviser for ISU, said. “Not only does it help with students being, hopefully, more welcomed and more respected in our general community, but it also helps to keep our community in Athens or Athens County informed about … the value of meeting people from different places.”
ISU board members also recognize the importance of the street fair for bringing together the community around them, as well as bringing awareness to the international community at OU.
“It’s an opportunity for international students to get contact or to interact with the local community,” Deependra Budhathoki, president of ISU, said. “(It’s an opportunity) to advertise the culture, the food and the artifacts from their home country to the local community.”
Additionally, Cahill said the event is eye-opening for many people in the local and university communities and is a reminder that each of them still has work to do in regards to diversity and inclusion.
Along with the awareness the event brings, many international students who have attended the event before are very excited to see it happen in person again, especially because of the food.
“I’m excited to bring back that after two years of just shutting down and not having to interact with the community,” Keamogetse Khudu, vice president of ISU, said. “I’m very excited for the food and to see what other organizations have at the street fair.”
For other international students who have never attended the event, many are looking forward to going for the first time and experiencing the event for themselves.
“I’m quite excited about it because I understand there will be lots of food and the fact that there will be a lot of cultural displays,” Gerard Chukwu, photographer for ISU, said. “I’m from Nigeria in Africa, so I hope to meet people from other continents and other parts of my continent as well.”
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said he is hopeful the event will have a good turnout, especially as COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease across the state. Because people have been secluded due to coronavirus health and safety measures, he believes people are eager to get back out and interact with other people.
International Week is taking place from Monday to Saturday, with events planned for every day leading up to the street fair.