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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Booths, flags, and food: the delightful annual I-fair

A Review of the 2024 International Fair: Retro Renaissance

Saturday, Feb. 3, the 43rd edition of the International Fair happened in CFA. The theme this year was the Retro Renaissance. The booth fair started at noon and went up to 14:00 ( an international article calls for international time).

Booth participants included aaina, Asian Student Association, Dare to Care Peer Educators, Diversity Student Senate, German Club, Harambee, Japanese Club, MEchA, Office of Advancement, UNICEF, and the Vietnamese Club. The booths included fun activities, raffles, cultural presentations, a photo stand, and more.

The hallway to Kresge looked great, full of colorful posters and shiny fabric. Like in previous years, students got what they called a “passport” (the name caused some confusion once I asked two students if they had brought their passports. Poor people. I probably sounded like a cop).

“Passports” in hand, people could go around on a tour through the tables and get a stamp from each of them. In the end, if they had all the stamps, they were rewarded with the I-Fair 2024 T-shirt and a ticket to participate in a draw. Exciting, isn’t it?

My only personal complaint was the stamps. In previous years, booths usually checked passports using a pen or something. This year, there were stickers.

I was Dare to Care’s official passport stamper (I gave myself that title), and I would honestly love the sticker idea if not for the trembling and sweating I went through while praying to all holy deities to bless me with the power of quickly removing the thing from its plastic cover.

Also, the aesthetic stickers ended quite quickly, so while some people had a marvelous Renaissance muse, others had a fireman truck. I honestly think both options were fire, though. Pun intended.

The flag parade happened at 14:30 at Kresge Hall. Students from multiple nationalities entered the room, one by one waving their flags while “Wavin’ Flag” (very fitting) by K’NAAN played in the background.

The students were in the best outfits one can imagine. They made me feel underdressed even though I spent quite some minutes in front of the mirror before coming.

Flag parade, (amateur photo taken by me)

President Andrew McGadney was also there, waving the Knox flag. In his purple suit, he looked like the face of Knox pride.

The atmosphere burst with excitement, with everyone cheering as each student holding a flag climbed on stage and said something in their native language. I didn’t know what they were saying, but I also cheered. A lot.

By the time of the cultural showcase, at 15:00, Kresge was crowded. Sikander Mateen and Rosa Escobar both did a great job at being the hosts. Mateen can’t catch a break from me interviewing him because of the Senate, so I, merciful as I am, decided to leave him alone this time.

My recording (my friends insisted that I did) was pretty mediocre because of how much I was clapping. You can also catch me screaming and embarrassingly singing along if you watch those videos, so please don’t.

The presentations were perfect. I wish I could praise them one by one in detail, but this article can only be so long.

South Asian fusion. (Best screenshot I could get from my Earthquake footage)

The first performance was a South Asian fusion, featuring retro popular South Asian music. Multiple of my friends were dancing, so I was basically held at gunpoint to record. I know how hard they worked to choreograph and rehearse that dance, and it was worth it.

The song’s cheerful energy was contagious, and the dance movements were clean and fun. I was bouncing on my seat in a pathetic attempt to recreate the steps (which caused the video I recorded to look like I was in an Earthquake).

Ulpanay’s dance. (I need to take some photography lessons)

The second to present was junior Ulpanay Djoldasova, performing a Traditional KaraKalpak Dance. Her traditional dress looked amazing, and I was hypnotized by the balance of her braid as she rotated and raised her arms. Definitely a performance worth watching.

I watched senior Sahana Giri’s traditional South Asian dance last year, and this year’s once again grabbed my attention until the very end. She has so much energy and strength in her movements that I admire she does not run out of breath. I loved Sahana’s performance and will miss it in I-Fair once she graduates.

Japanese Club’s performance (Hey, you got to admit I at least got a cool pose)

The Japanese club’s performance was mesmerizing. In the last moments of the dance, they had everyone reveal letters on their backs, which, when combined, formed the words Japanese Club. My jaw detached from my face and joined the Titanic 12,500 feet below sea level. I never got it back. (I am currently jawless as I write this article.)

The Japanese Glow Stick Dance by first-years Sota Hiraguri and Shuho Okuyama was also flawless. They performed in the dark, and the dim light of red and blue glow sticks illuminated their movements. The faster they went, the more it looked like they were holding a wheel of light. If any remains of my poor jaw were still left in my face, they were gone by the time this performance ended.

First-year Vansh Chugh built a love story using excerpts from different Retro Bollywood songs. It was romantic, funny, sad, and cheerful. I didn’t know if I laughed or cried. That boy has a whole creative writing department in his head. When his show ended, the entire audience stood up to applaud. I didn’t think twice before I joined them.

The performance by the KPOP Dance Group: Kick it by NCT 127 + Drama by Aespa was breathtaking. That group’s stage presence was insane. The whole thing was so good I forgot I was watching it live instead of in a video clip.

Junior Amelia Wirth and Senior Marina Hoang presented Giấc mơ trưa (Midday Dream). Hoang was the vocalist while Amelia played the violin. Together, they sounded like what I imagined as the background music for the staircase to heaven. Truly beautiful, and certainly remarkable.

Sophomore Selene Chew sang a Chinese retro throwback. Her voice made me feel so peaceful that I momentarily forgot I had seven assignments due that week. Hope to hear from her again next I-Fair – I need that annual session of therapy.

The cultural showcase ended with a dance by the I-Club Exec Members + MCs. They tried to pop a party popper but the party popper was not in the mood for popping. More like a party pooper, if you ask me. Eventually they managed to make it work, though.

The Hunger Games — ahem, sorry — the Traditional Food Dinner began at around 18:00. The line, as usual in previous years, wrapped around Seymour’s main corridor and slithered all the way to The Lincoln Room. After an eternity of scrolling through cat videos and scowling at those who dared cut the line, I finally got to the caf.

I immediately realized the food was worth the wait. On the menu, there were Aloo Tikki Chaat, Sev Puri, Mango Lassi (by aaina), Asian Style Ice Cream (by Asian Student Association), Causa, Champurrado (by MEChA), Chè buffet, (by Vietnamese Club), Yakisoba (by Japanese Club), Korean Style LA Galbi, from South Korea, Perkedel Jagung (Surubaya) and Soda Gembira from Indonesia, and Speena Ghwakha, or “White Rose”, from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

The dishes were great.  I enjoyed the Aloo Tikki Chaat a lot. It had this delicious fried crunchy texture, and it was just the right amount of spicy. I will confess I am not the number one fan of tuna, but it tasted amazing when paired with avocado inside the Causa.

My personal favorites were the desserts since I have a cavity-danger-level sweet tooth. I would make a fan club dedicated to The Asian Style Ice Cream. The boba pops in your mouth! Chè buffet was also very tasty. It is like jelly, but better.

Overall, I had a lot of fun at the booths, cheered on the flag parade, was fascinated by the performances, and was spoiled by the food at the Traditional Food Dinner.

I would like to take a moment to thank the International Club execs, Co-presidents Senior Archi Nokrek and Senior Naeun Kim, Membership Chair Sophomore Sania Shetty, Treasurer Sophomore Nicole Ruby, Secretary Junior Aisha Spear, Co-PRs Sophomore Selena Chew and Sophomore Urvi Bohra, and First Year Rep Nairran Zargar for working hard to plan the wonderful event that I-Fair 2024 was.

Let’s recognize they do this on their own accord, with only the pleasure of seeing it all work out as their exchange. For that reason, if someone important is reading this article, please make sure these kids are getting the money they deserve for the next International Fair. I already look forward to it!

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About the Contributor
Julia Maron
Julia Maron, Staff Writer
Julia Maron '26 (she/her) is a staff writer in TKS since her freshman year. She is a psychology and creative writing double major. Julia spends her free time writing, drawing, profoundly reflecting upon the deepest secrets of the human physical existence, and reading.

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  • N

    Naysha JainFeb 22, 2024 at 12:59 am

    This was such a great and funny article! Damn Julia you killed it!

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    • J

      Julia MaronFeb 23, 2024 at 10:14 pm

      <3

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