On Saturday, members of the Kenyon and Knox County community gathered on Peirce Lawn for the Kenyon Cultural Fair, organized by the International Society at Kenyon (ISAK). Those in attendance sampled international foods and learned about different cultures at tables set up around Peirce Lawn.
Somphors Tann ’23, co-president and board advisor of ISAK, explained that the purpose of the cultural fair was to allow international students to celebrate their heritage with the broader Kenyon community. Tann added that this year’s event was only the second Kenyon Cultural Fair, with the previous event being a “trial year.” Now, ISAK aims to put on a cultural fair each year.
Tann explained that due to the pandemic, there have not been many multicultural events since she arrived at Kenyon in 2019. She and other international students felt especially isolated and disconnected from their homelands during this time, and the cultural fairs were intended to bring the community together and help students celebrate their cultures while away from home. Tann emphasized how the event provided an opportunity for all students to experience different cultures.
ISAK began planning this year’s Cultural Fair in February, a task which involved finding volunteers to host countries’ tables, setting up the event on Peirce Lawn and getting food from various restaurants, all while operating within a set event budget. Ultimately, a variety of Kenyon organizations and departments provided ISAK with funding for the event, including the Business and Finance Committee, the Center for Global Engagement, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and several academic departments.
Acting President Jeff Bowman appreciated the educational aspect of the Cultural Fair, noting the variety of different topics covered from history to politics to poetry. He also remarked on the amount of countries he was encouraged to visit from the Cultural Fair. “I collected many stamps for my passport,” he said in an interview with the Collegian. “I liked the way that different students from different cultural backgrounds or countries chose to represent what’s important in very different ways.” Tann explained that the entire process was a team effort, noting that she was very proud of how hard the volunteers and ISAK members worked to make the event happen. Additionally, she emphasized how country representatives were crucial in helping the event come together. “I’m grateful for all the representatives and volunteers that have helped,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. “[This was] 100%, without a doubt, a very successful event.”