For Humanities Professor Amber Landis, the Parkland College Cultures Fair is the “most fun day at Parkland.” On this day, Landis gets the opportunity to learn about and support international students as they showcase their language, music, and customs to the Parkland community and community of Champaign-Urbana. The Cultures Fair works to engage and open the minds of the community, while also giving international students a day to share and celebrate important aspects of their lives and backgrounds with their new community.
The Cultures Fair takes place this Thursday, March 30th, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in Parkland’s student union, drawing attendees with the sounds of live music and the scent of good food. This year, attendees can look forward to hearing South African, Malawian, Zambian, Congolese, South Korean, and Latin American music. If they arrive hungry and on time, a jerk chicken lunch catered by Caribbean Grill will be served from 11:30a.m. to 1p.m. Proceeds from the lunch will go to support the International Student Scholarship at Parkland. All other Cultures Fair activities and events, such as a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, are free. The final event of the fair will be a lecture by Professor Hua Quin on the impact of urban population growth on the environment in China.
Beyond providing tunes and food, the Cultures Fair serves as a good reminder that we, those at Parkland College and within Champaign-Urbana, are a part of a global community. Often times we think of traditional dress and music when we think of other countries, forgetting that like us, other cultures have changed and evolved with time. At the fair attendees will get the opportunity to see traditional dress and customs juxtaposed with cutting edge fashion and music, ensuring a complete representation for each country. Regardless of our travel, language experience, or country of origin, it’s always possible to gain additional global perspective and respect for others.
Not including immigrant students, more than 300 international students representing over 50 countries attend Parkland College. Many of these students will transfer to the University of Illinois or other large universities in the United States, using Parkland College as a jumping off point to perfect their English and obtain college credit. As one can imagine, being far from home in a country whose language and customs are unfamiliar and whose political climate is rather frigid, is challenging. Now more than ever, Landis is proud to work on this event as a way to create a welcoming environment for the large number of international students that attend Parkland College.
Developing a connection to the Champaign-Urbana and Parkland communities is important for the students, as well as the future of the event. A number of Parkland alumni ask to participate in and assist with the Cultures Fair every year. There is a former Pakistani student who does henna tattooing and comes back to the event yearly to volunteer her time and craft to the festivities. Other students reached out to Landis to help suggest and coordinate music as well. The Cultures Fair exists not just to generate awareness among non-international students at Parkland, but to create lasting relationships and positive connections for its international students as well.
If you’re interested in good food, good music, and learning about world cultures, Parkland College will be the place for you this Thursday, March 30 from 10a.m. to 4p.m. The student union will be open to anyone from the public wanting to learn about and experience the cultures of Parkland’s international students.
Full Schedule & Location of Events
Musical Performances, main stage
11-12: Super Mazumzum (South African, Zambian, Malawian music)
12-1: Jean Rene Balekita and Bomoyi (Congolese Rhumba music)
1-1:30: Gah Rahk Mah Dahng (South Korean drumming group from UIUC)
2-3: Los Guapos (Latin American instrumental quartet; salsa, cumbia, etc.)
11:30-1: Jerk Chicken Lunch, catered by Caribbean Grill (proceeds to benefit new International Student Scholarship at Parkland College).
1:30-2:10: Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony (Japan House, UIUC)
3-4: “Chinese Migration vs. The Environment: Who wins?” - Professor Hua Qin from the University of Missouri-Columbia uncovers the relationship between migration and the environment in China and how this information may lead to better sustainability and policies in China.
Student Club tables (English Conversation Club, German Club, Spanish, Parkland Study Abroad, Japanese Culture Club, Club Latino)
International student quiz show
The fair is being sponsored by the UIUC’s Center for Global Studies, through support of the U.S. Department of Education's Title VI NRC program. Additional funding has been provided by the Center for African Studies and the Center for Latin American Studies; as well as the Division of Arts and Sciences, Counseling and Advising, and Student Government at Parkland College.
Photos courtesy of Parkland College.