Lehigh University’s 32nd annual International Bazaar showcased the cultures native to various countries represented on Lehigh’s campus through food, fashion and dance on April 27 on the UC front lawn.
The Bazaar was founded by a small group of students who decided to create an event that would celebrate the cultures and ethnic backgrounds of Lehigh students. Developing and growing over the years, the International Bazaar is one of the largest events to be held on campus annually.
At the event, 35 tables lined the front lawn, each embodying a country that is represented in the Lehigh community. Upon entry, each attendee was given a “passport” that allowed for samples of ethnic foods from 12 countries including Italy, China and Turkey to be collected by attendees as they “travel around the world.” The food was provided by local restaurants that students chose to represent their culture.
“It’s important for others to be exposed to lifestyles they wouldn’t see on a normal basis, especially in a place like Pennsylvania,” said Sam Katrenya, ’22. As a student in attendance, Katrenya said she was excited to see students sharing their different cultures, as well as the foods they chose to represent their background.
As clothing provides a lens through which a culture is seen, the event hosted a fashion show in which students were able to showcase traditional clothing representative of their ethnic background. As each student walked down the runway, information about the symbolism and history of the outfit was presented to educate the audience on the individual cultures.
Also featured at International Bazaar were performances by dance groups comprised of Lehigh students including Leela, a dance group incorporating the various genres of Indian dance with Western influences, and the Latin Dance Club. Through their performances, the groups entertained the audience and educated them through their movements and the music to accompany the dance routines.
Branching outside of Lehigh, ethnic groups from the greater Bethlehem community were invited to participate and attend the event. Additionally, a Bollywood dance group from Muhlenberg College in Allentown also performed.
Sophie Goodfellow, the international adviser for education and arts and sciences as well as a coordinator for the Bazaar, recognizes the importance of having an event that provides an avenue through which the cultures that make up the Lehigh community can be represented.
“International students are expected to adapt to the Lehigh culture and the American culture,” Goodfellow said.
The event is student-run, with a committee consisting of 16 students organizing the festivities. The students started preparations in October, to ensure a seamless event that benefits the student body, Goodfellow said.
The organizing committee represents an array of backgrounds including domestic students, international students and some students who are American but strongly identify with the culture of their parents. Nonetheless, Goodfellow said they all share a deep understanding and value celebrating diverse cultures.
Goodfellow said she believed the event is a necessity on a campus with a thriving international community and believes their cultures should be celebrated. She said it helps the international students as well as the domestic students feel more connected and educates the entirety of the campus.
Jel Kewcharoen, ’22, and a member of the Thai Student Association, explained how she believed the Bazaar to be a channel through which she can educate others on her own culture as well as learn about the cultures of her classmates.
“You have to be aware of all the cultures,” Kewcharoen said.
The International Bazaar provides Lehigh students with an opportunity to learn about the cultures of their classmates, gaining a greater understanding of the student community in which they are a part of.