International Weekend has long been a favorite Blair tradition, highlighting the different cultures and regions that are represented throughout the School’s student and faculty population. The event gives the Blair community a chance to share and celebrate the wide variety of traditions represented on campus, as well as to exhibit cultural learning.
This year the intercultural learning exchange started early with a number of additional opportunities to express one’s home culture and learn about the customs of peers and faculty. On Wednesday, April 6, faculty led a trip to an Asian market in Parsippany, and students began to plan for their exhibitions and the food tasting event that would happen on Saturday evening. On Thursday and Friday evenings, students sampled traditional cuisine in faculty homes, including Italian, Filipino and Thai meals and attended events centered around important discussion topics like arranged marriage in India.
When Saturday arrived, excited students shared in cultural exhibitions, such as information about Ramadan to prepare for the Iftar buffet at sundown, a Chinese dance demonstration with lessons, the cuisine of the Spanish-speaking world and the cooking traditions of Thailand. Faculty cheered on their students, who had become the teachers, as conference rooms and classrooms hosted educational events in the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration (CECIC): a slideshow, discussion, and educational quiz about Nigerian and Ghanaian cultures; and a presentation of the history of fashion in the Tang dynasty. Once the exhibitions concluded, faculty and students moved upstairs to the café to enjoy a food tasting, where they were able to experience a bit of gastronomy. The events in the CECIC were capped off by a presentation and fundraiser to benefit Ukraine. Students then traveled across campus to the turf as Saturday evening ended with the Blair World Cup soccer tournament under the lights.
International Week concluded on Sunday with international tea and music on Insley Porch, crepe-making and pétanque-playing in one faculty home, dumpling-making in another and an Indian cooking lesson in a third faculty home, as well as a visit from the Portuguese Angry Chouriço BBQ food truck. Mrs. Lang, language department chair and Inclusivity Committee member, remarked, “The events of this week are crucial to the growth of intercultural learning skills in our community. We will not soon forget the smiles on students’ faces in the exhibition space as they learned the graceful art of holding a Chinese fan, listened attentively to the stories of Nigerian and Ghanaian traditions, and feasted their eyes on an exquisite Polish pottery display. The enthusiasm with which these events were met was heartwarming.”
Members of the Blair community who planned the events are grateful to all who contributed and participated. The hope is that there is a better sense of and respectful curiosity about our rich diversity and how that diversity impacts the vibrancy of our campus. Ultimately, we look forward to the ways in which this weeklong celebration will continue to deepen our appreciation for one another.
To view photos from International Week, click here.