The St. Thomas University’s International Student Association (STUISA) held its annual multicultural fair over the weekend, marking the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that it returned in full swing.
While there have been multicultural fairs in recent years, restrictions limited audience capacity and their ability to serve food. This year STUISA volunteers prepared food representing 17 countries and had enough to serve up to 500 guests.
Ahmik Burneo, a third year student from Ecuador honouring in international relations doing a major in economics, is the current president of STUISA.
“It’s not only about learning about the culture of the countries, just verbally, but also giving the opportunity to taste amazing foods that we can have from different places of the world,” said Burneo.
He said one of the goals of the fair is to connect and integrate international students, domestic students and the Fredericton community, but it is also to raise funds so international students can receive bursaries next year.
This year’s theme was “Embracing our Colours,” and featured musical acts, dancing, poetry recitation, a fashion show, the international food fest, and for the first time ever, a cultural market.
Isabella Baralt, a third year student from Venezuela studying communications and public policy and international relations, is the treasurer of STUISA.
“International student entrepreneurs [were] there selling and showcasing their products as well as their photography and paintings,” said Baralt.
STUISA sold 150 tickets in advance and sold even more at the door. She said that not only STU students performed; members of the Fredericton community, like the Vietnamese Students Association in Fredericton, also attended.
Chaunte Blackwood, a first-year student from Jamaica hoping to study criminology, presented spoken word poetry for the first time at the multicultural fair.
Blackwood said she writes a lot of poetry but, having never presented it before, was nervous. She hopes those who heard her poetry see Jamaica, not just as a tourist destination, but as a nation founded on persevering and doing the best it can “in spite of the odds.”
“I feel like I have a duty to represent myself and my country,” said Blackwood.
“It’s really about forging our own identity separate from the past history of enslavement and continuing to be our own individualistic selves, that’s something we’re very proud of.”