On Sunday, April 17, College Avenue in Blacksburg will transform into a multicultural, international marketplace. The scents of savory chicken sate, melt-in-your-mouth baklava, and cool, refreshing mango lhassi will fill the air. The 57th International Street Fair is sponsored by Cranwell International Center and the Council of International Student Organizations (CISO) to display the diverse cultures represented in the community.
The Street Fair is about more than food. The student volunteers in the booths lining the area between Squires Student Center and South Main Street also offer traditional music, dance, and martial arts performances.
Divya Das, a sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia, majoring in human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is also a member of VT Bhangra. She performed at the fair as a freshman in 2015, and has a soft spot in her heart for unique opportunity the fair presents.
“Most of my performances with VT Bhangra have been competition-related, so it’s a really wonderful feeling to be able to dance and share that passion with fellow Hokies in an environment of learning,” said Das. “With the rigors of school here, it can be hard to find time to stop and learn more about the backgrounds of our fellow Hokies. The more we are able to discover about each other, the more respectful and accepting the Hokie Nation becomes.”
Zachery Scott, a junior from Jakarta, Indonesia, majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, credits the event with introducing him to an organization representing his own heritage.
“I grew up overseas, and assumed as a freshman that I wouldn’t find any representation of my culture on campus,” Scott said. “Within five minutes of my arrival at the International Street Fair, I happened upon a booth for the Indonesian Student Association at Virginia Tech. This association, albeit small, introduced me to an Indonesian support system in Blacksburg—something I wasn’t expecting to experience by any means—and I am proud to have assisted with the organization every year since.”
Jazmin Saini, a junior from Gainesville, Virginia, a finance major in the Pamplin College of Business, has also participated in the street fair through a student organization called Latin Link, which focuses on promoting Latino culture and heritage through cultural, social, and educational events.
“I think the International Street Fair is important because it really extends the reach of these cultural organizations to people who wouldn’t normally have been exposed,” said Saini. “Food, crafts, and performance are all tangible parts of such rich and diverse cultures, and they are a great way to encourage an atmosphere of learning on campus. By bringing these things to an easily accessible part of campus, we make the idea of diversity and culture less intimidating than it might have been originally.”
The International Street Fair will take place regardless of weather, and in the event of rain will be held inside Squires Student Center on the Virginia Tech campus.
Parking is available in the Architecture Annex lot (which will only be accessible via the south end of Otey Street), along Kent Street, around Drillfield Drive, on Alumni Mall, and in the lots near Stanger Street. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200.
Written by Madeline Sault of Arlington, Virginia, a junior triple majoring in business information technology, professional and technical writing, and English creative writing in the Pamplin College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.