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International Student Day

Many people might know May 1st as May Day or just another spring day, but for Bennington College, May 1st was International Student Day. This celebration of international students and their cultures was organized by international students Marta Shcharbakova, Kunlek Tamang, Kevin Lionel Ndizaniye Mpundu, and Desire Chimanikire. 

Chef Steve and D-Hall were ready for the occasion, decked out with a garland of international flags and a menu of student-submitted recipes. For brunch, they served Spanakopita (a Greek spinach pie), vegan Dolmas (a Mediterranean dish of stuffed grape leaves), and Indian coconut curry (because what’s a d-hall meal without a little curry?). For dinner, the dining hall served beef empanadas and cinnamon-dusted churros inspired by Latin American and Spanish cuisine, as well as Kerala beef stir fry from the Kerala state on the Western coast of India. 

After brunch, students were invited to celebrate Holi on the sunny Commons Lawn with music, dancing, games, and colorful Holi powder! Students danced to music in different languages, played volleyball, and learned about the cultures of their international friends. Perhaps one of the best parts of the day, however, was the showcase of international student work in the evening. Despite a minor propane leak in Commons that jeopardized the event, eager students waited for the celebration to continue in Downcaf. There, Sergiu-Mihai Ciavoi opened the show with a speech about the Romanian word dor. Organizer Marta Shcharbakova followed with a poignant and stunning rendition of a Belarusian folk song. Next, Andreea Coscai presented a moving and personal podcast about the Romanian healthcare system, followed by an instrumental piece by Dion Nataraja, Herotjokro as Posthuman, that contrasted dissonant and harmonious sounds and melodies. The evening then transitioned to a series of student films. The first, by Maaz Adil, used music and nature to portray the journey to find yourself. Second was Jullian Androkae’s The Attaché, a comedic thriller set in our very own Roz’s cafe. Finally, Jonathan Lee showed a heartfelt family film, How to Make Kimchi (or How to be Korean). Before each piece, the creators gave an introduction to their work, and at its finish, each piece was met with the deserving applause of proud friends and peers. Here at Bennington, we are no strangers to showcases or performances, but taking the time to exhibit the work of international voices was a demonstration of the talent, perspective, culture, and character brought to us by students from different countries. As a whole, International Student Day was an opportunity to celebrate, appreciate, and spend time with fellow international students and friends.

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