Parade of Nations takes community around the world
About 40 countries marched in this year’s parade, said Chair Machel Borsum, manager of international student and scholar services at Michigan Technological University. This year’s theme was “Fairy Tales From Around the World.”
Groups walked from Quincy Green to Dee Stadium, waving flags, holding placards and sometimes wearing clothes from their home.
“We’re far away from our home, and this environment makes us feel like we’re connected people,” said Suresh Pokharel, a member of Tech’s Nepalese Students Association. “We meet people from all around the world and it makes us happy about seeing people together.”
Pokharel and some of the other Nepalese male marchers wore Dhaka topi, a traditional Nepalese hat worn by older generations. The women wore dresses from the same dhaka fabric, a patterned cotton.
“In the big cities, where the Nepali community is bigger, when we see a person with a topi, we recognize ‘Oh, he’s from Nepal. Let’s go and talk,'” Pokharel said.
The African Student Association had participants from many of the continent’s countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and Ghana.
“It’s just trying to let them know that we are in this part of the country, and at Michigan Tech specifically, just letting them know that we have diverse cultures, diverse traditions,” said Nigerian student Tosin Ayo.
It’s also a way for them to showcase the food from their homes, including jollof rice, semo and egosi soup, and mandazi, a type of fried dough.
“You see different food, and it helps to remember our country and feel more appreciated,” said Nigerian student Omowunmi Aworinde.
Inside Dee Stadium, the Multicultural Festival offered 24 booths of food and arts and crafts.
It takes months of planning, starting in January and continuing until the actual event, Borsum said. They send out invites to local businesses, and anywhere from eight to 12 student organizations prepare food.
“It’s getting everybody to celebrate diversity, and all the different cultures,” Borsum said. “As you know, we don’t have a lot of ethnic food in Houghton, so that draws a lot of people.”
The Nepalese students prepared chicken or vegetable momo, a kind of dumpling, which was accompanied by tomato or spicy hot chili chutney. It’s a bigger group than in years past, Pokharel said.
“We had a lot of good times together,” he said. “It was a lot of work, but we enjoy the overall process. We’ve been preparing not only this day, but for the past week, two weeks.”
Student groups prepared large supplies of homestyle dishes, including the Iranian Community’s bandari with sausage and the Indian Student Association’s chicken tandoori. As soon as the doors opened, residents formed long lines, excited to try out the foods.
Caleb Briggs, a first-year robotics engineering major, had been curious about the event.
“It was really cool,” he said. “I really enjoyed seeing all the different cultures. It was a really good experience.”
He sat on the waterfront with a friend eating spicy tuna onigiri from the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers.
“It’s amazing,” he said.