The second annual International Fair and Taste of Darlington featured bits and pieces of home for dozens of international students as they presented food, displays and culture from their native countries. According to Darlington’s director of international student program, Kila McCann, the students look forward to this event as a way to share part of their background with others.
“Today is really an opportunity to share their culture — where they come from, points of interest, unique things from their country — and it’s a way to educate from within,” McCann said. “I think it’s a great way for barriers to be broken and for students to explore the world outside of their own.
“This is pretty much all student-run. They chose what they wanted to bring to share with everyone,” she added. “They cooked and brought the food representing their native countries, and there is art, music, clothing and decorations. We wanted them to make it feel like home for them.”
Mark Huang, a Darlington student from Taiwan, wore some traditional clothing from his country as he talked about what he and fellow students set up at their table.
“We made some seafood soup, bubble tea and pineapple cake, and we brought some traditional decorations and necklaces,” Huang said. “This is a special event because you get to tell others about your home, and it’s a chance to learn about other places.”
Jana Hengstler, a Darlington senior from Germany, said the international students seemed to have a real passion for sharing unique elements from their homeland.
“I like how everyone cooked different foods from their home countries,” Hengstler said. “To represent Germany, we are teaching different everyday German phrases, we have some movies about sports stars from our country, and we made traditional foods like meatballs, potato salad and different types of pancakes and desserts.”
Hengstler said the international fair is a way to stay connected and take pride in their home countries — even though they may not be able to travel back home very often.
“It can be hard as an international student, especially during school breaks,” she said. “Last year I didn’t get to go home for Christmas, so that can be sad. But it can help you grow up. I know I was really shy when I first came to Darlington, but you can learn a lot from the experience and it can help you mature.”
Busayo Amosu, a native of Nigeria and a Darlington freshman, said the open atmosphere at the international fair mirrors the camaraderie of the school’s student body.
“Something like this lets everybody see different parts of the world, but it’s like bringing the world to Darlington,” Amosu said. “When you’re a student here, it doesn’t matter where you are from — everyone is very friendly and everybody respects each other’s cultures.”