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International Week Means the World to Students

Jim Norman

We all have that moment when someone inevitably proclaims, “Small world!” That was the case for the entire Canterbury community this spring when the School held International Week, a series of events and activities celebrating the cultures and traditions of the world.

Throughout the week, a number of students presented their cultures, customs, and more at School Meeting, introducing classmates and faculty to their home countries while sharing fun, captivating personal stories about their lives there. 

Flags from different nations were hung in the Steers Center Ragland Commons during the week, and the Dining Hall offered internationally inspired lunches each day—Asian, Spanish, Irish, and Italian—culminating with an American picnic for students on Saturday.

The grand finale was the 8th Annual International AfFair held Saturday night in Pigott Arena, showcasing more than a dozen countries and regions from around the globe. Tables were set up along the perimeter of Pigott, each with students answering questions and serving samples of food and drink from those areas of the world. Represented countries included Canada, Jamaica, Syria, Korea, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and different regions of China. 

Most of the food and beverage items were prepared by the students themselves using the Brodie Room kitchen, the Health Center kitchen, and even faculty members’ home kitchens. Thank you, Colleen Cook, R.N. ’02; Margaret Draper; Charlie Gaetjens; Linda Labet; Amy ’86 and Julio Omaña P ’19, ’20; Olivia Pena; and Rachel and Jim Stone P ’23, ’24 for supporting our culinary Saints! 

Director of Community Life Elyse “EJ” Soifersmith was beaming with pride over the collective effort and dedication that went into making the week such a success. “Led by our International Student Ambassadors (ISAs), the students put a lot of work into this event. They took many hours to attend meetings, cook their meals, and set up,” she shared. “It is a wonderful way to educate others about and share their food, culture, and traditions.” 

Kudos to ISAs Hanyan Cai ’22, Marina Druck ’22, Maxim Mochalov ’22, Diego Paredes ’22, Mateo Siabatto ’22, Ziqian “Jacqueline” Yang, and Qixiu “Neil” Yao ’22 for their leadership and enthusiasm. 

EJ was especially excited about Saturday’s event. “The AfFair was extremely well attended and the food was absolutely amazing. The atmosphere was filled with energy and appreciation for fellow students!”

Yueanshu “Angel” Fu ’25 felt that appreciation throughout her first International Week experience on the hilltop. “Everyone was involved in learning about and enjoying all these cultures,” she said. “Those of us making the food were really happy to share our home tastings and enjoyed the fun of cooking. I can't wait for next year!”