The belly dance club performs at the International Bazaar on April 8 in Baker Hall. The annual cultural event celebrates Lehigh's diverse global community and includes a fashion show, dance performances and food tasting. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W Staff)

International Bazaar event celebrates cultural diversity

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Upon entering the International Bazaar, Lehigh students and local community members were greeted with interactive cultural booths, an aerial performance and international food tastings.

Diverse foods, cultural music, traditional clothing and distinct flags represented about 40 of the 85 countries Lehigh international students call home.

The Office of International Students and Scholars held its annual student-run International Bazaar entirely for free, for the first time in its 31 years, from noon to 4 p.m. on  April 8 in Zoellner Arts Center.

People explore the interactive cultural booths  April 8 in Zoellner Arts Center. The exhibits are part of the International Bazaar, an annual event held by the Office of International Students and Scholars. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W Staff)

The public event drew more than 750 guests and aimed to celebrate Lehigh’s diverse global community. The Bazaar included an international fashion show, a showcase of cultural dance performance groups and a food tasting.

Akile dancer Larissa Chow, ’20, who sold food at the Bazaar last year, said the free food was delicious but ran out quickly.

Helius dancer Trevor Watlington, ’17, said he was impressed by the number of attendees and hopes the Bazaar will continue to be free next year.

The event, organized by the Office of International Students and Scholars, was sponsored by the Global Union, Student Auxiliary Services, the Graduate Life Office, Student Senate, the Council for Equitable Community and the Residence Hall Association.

“This event is nice because it shows all the spheres of someone’s background — food, culture, clothing and music,” said Victoria Pasini, ’20, who helped organize the event. “At the end of the day we are so fortunate to be able to attend an institution that allows us to meet all these different cultures, instead of just knowing our own little corner of the world.”

Booths run by student clubs lined the walkway of the Atrium Lobby and allowed attendees to learn about different cultures through interactive games and activities. Additionally, students and faculty from more than 15 countries participated in the fashion show and performances in Baker Hall.

“The fashion show and cultural food tasting allowed (me) to learn about different traditional clothing and taste new foods from all over the world,” Watlington said.

Cheryl Matherly, the vice president and vice provost for international affairs, said this event inspires cultural exchange each year.

“This event…celebrates the rich cultural diversity we have at Lehigh and in the entire Lehigh Valley,” Matherly said.

Pasini said representatives from neighboring colleges were invited to the event last year, and likewise, the LVAIC schools joined Lehigh to volunteer and perform in this year’s event.

“Because of their participation this year, now this event is not just a Lehigh specific event but rather a community thing,” Pasini said.

The event featured aerial dance performances in the Black Box Theatre. Aerialist Christine Gorigoitia performed first, followed by aerialist Sam Anderson.

“Aerial dance is a hybrid of movement that began in the U.S. and over the years made its way to Europe,” Gorigoitia said.

She said the dance is explored in a three-dimensional way and allows people from different countries and cultures to find a common language through movement.

Gorigoitia began her performance by inviting the audience to engage their minds and bodies with exercises. The activity allowed the audience to learn what aerial dance is all about — engaging in one’s mind through body movement — before viewing the performance.

Watlington said he looks forward to participating in next year’s Bazaar.

“Events like the International Bazaar are important to our campus community because when we learn about and expose ourselves to different people around the world we become more well-rounded and open-minded to diversity,” Watlington said.

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