Student Voice


June 12, 2024

International Bazaar draws in students

March 30, 2007

On March 22, the International Student Association (ISA) hosted its annual International Bazaar, offering faculty, staff, students and community members to observe performances inspired by cultures from all over the globe and taste several ethnic foods.

ISA president Wallace Waruiru was very pleased with the record-breaking turnout. “The attendance was greater than any other bazaar ever held,” he said. “It was so amazing.”

Waruiru said that over 400 people attended the event last Thursday.

“Approximately more than 400 people attended but this number excludes all international students and the people who were chosen to help serving food, cleaning and other stuff,” he said. “Maybe approximately 460 or even more because the number of the people who were not counted is almost a hundred.”

Waruiru attribute the large turnout to the new locale, the University Center ballroom.

“It’s great compared to other years,” Waruiru said, glancing at the many attendees sitting at tables sampling the cuisine.

One of the differences with the food at this year’s event was the preparation. Waruiru said Chartwells employees cooked the food this year, whereas in previous years, students prepared it. He also said cooking the food was a great opportunity for Chartwells employees.

“They can learn how to cook foods from other countries,” Waruiru said.

Those in attendance March 22 were able to sample 12 dishes from 10 different cultures.

These included: kung pao chicken, a classic Sichuan dish; koulourakia, a traditional Greek dessert; Pho Vietnamese beef, a traditional noodle soup; Ukranian pierogi, a form of ravioli; potato korokke, a Japanese croquette; samosa, a South Asian fried pastry; sukuma wiki, a Kenyan green vegetable dish; mandazi, a Kenyan doughnut; Kaiserschmarrn, a caramelized Austrian pancake; bindetuk, seasoned Korean pancakes; onigiri, Japanese rice balls; and pozole, a traditional Mexican stew.

“Food was pretty good,” senior Mayumi Kobuchi said. “It would have been better if we had some ethnic desserts and little more variety. I especially liked Japanese korokke and Mexican spicy ones.”

The budget was also increased for this year’s event due to the increase in entertainment events.

“We tried to budget according to what we wanted to do,” Waruiru said. “Because of the budget ... we had to cut out some events.”

Carol Xiong, a senior and the co-president of the Community Action Theater Troupe (CATTS) noted the increase in performances this year.

“The entertainment section is huge,” she said, adding that there were only about five performances at last year’s event compared to 16 this year.

To start the entertainment segment of the evening, senior Katy Leisch introduced a video entitled “Building Tomorrow,” which documented the j-term journey of UW-River Falls faculty members and students to Uganda. During the trip, students were able to interact with and teach Ugandan children, for whom they are raising money to build a new school.

“It becomes easy for us to take [education] for granted,” Leisch said about students at UWRF.

After the showing and a performance of an Indonesian pop song, Chancellor Don Betz took the stage, praising the audience for making the bazaar a success and applauding those who made the trek to Uganda.

“The Building Tomorrow people are the reason I show up for work,” he said.

Before the rest of the performances began, Waruiru spoke to the crowd, thanking everyone for the turnout.

“I’m so glad to be here today and see all you guys here today,” he said.

Waruiru said that culture is one of the most important factors to realizing who we are.

“If you don’t know my culture, I can say you don’t know me,” he said. “We should know each other’s cultures to get to know everyone. That’s why the International Bazaar was started.”

Waruiru told the audience that when he goes back home, he will take with him a positive message and encourage other students to come to UWRF.

“This has become my second home,” he said. “What keeps us here is the sharing of culture.”

Members of the CATTS performed a Japanese folk lore tale entitled “Peach Boy” this year.

Carol Xiong, a senior and the co-president of CATTS, said the group has preformed during the International Bazaar for the past three years. At last year’s event, CATTS performed a Chinese tale that Xiong said was very popular. Xiong said CATTS puts on at least one play every semester; last semester the troupe performed during Culture Fest.

The major difference for the International Bazaar this year was the change in venue.

“This year we had at new student center,” senior Natsumi Kubo said. “So it was totally changed atmosphere.”

Xiong also noticed the impact of holding the event in the University Center had on attendance.

“It’s a great turnout because of the different building,” she said.

Kubo, who attended her fourth International Bazaar last week, said the event took place in the Blue Room of the now defunct Rodli Commons the past two years and was also held in Hagestad Hall the year before that.

“I like this year because we could eat and see performance at same place,” Kubo said. “I like many performances to watch. Unfortunately I couldn’t eat food at all because I was busy.” One thing Kubo said she looks forward to is meeting new people and learning more about other people’s cultures through conversation and observation of performances.

“My favorite time is always watching the other culture,” Kubo said. “We can talk to people who are from other countries and share time with them.”

Kubo was also a performer at this year’s event, participating in the Japanese karate dance and the Japanese traditional dance. Since the International Bazaar was held the week after spring break, Kubo said finding time to prepare for the performances was a challenge.

“We didn’t have time [to practice] this year because it was right after spring break,” she said. “But we practiced as much as we could. The day before bazaar we practiced until 3 a.m.” Kobuchi, who also performed in a couple dance numbers, said the group practiced really hard.

“The night before the performance, we practiced from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.,” she said. “We practiced couple times before spring break and few hours every day after spring break. We made our costume by ourselves, too.”

Kobuchi said she received a lot of praise for the performances, which made the event even more memorable for her.

“ ... A lot of friends and visitors said to me that it was just great performances,” she said. “I was really happy to hear lots of compliments and awesome feedbacks from other people ... I was glad everybody had fun and experience the world. It was very successful.”