On Saturday, February 11, students, faculty members, and town residents gathered in the Center for Development Economics for its annual Country Fair. The CDE students represented more than twenty countries, including Madagascar, Bolivia, Albania, Sri Lanka, Yemen, and Viet Nam, and their stations featured flags, food, stunning landscape pictures, and fun facts about their home countries. Many students even dressed in traditional national dress for the event.
“A country with old traditions, a country where east and west meet” advertised the table for Azerbaijan, manned by Ulvi Yusifov. Located south of Russia and north of Iran, Azerbaijan straddles the European-Asian divide, both geographically and culturally: for example, while its citizens are primarily Muslim, there is also a significant population of Orthodox Christians. In addition, the country is also steeped in its own unique traditions; Novruz Bayram, celebrated in mid-March, is a Muslim New Year’s holidays that has taken on special meaning and traditions in Azerbaijan, with national Azerbaijanian pastries such as shakarbura and pakhlava served and with traditional egg painting and house cleaning activities. Azerbaijan is also famous for its gorgeous handwoven carpets and its pottery.
Mola Tin, dressed in traditional Khmer clothing, presented at the Cambodian table. She began by describing the Khmer language, a nontonal language which has a unique set of characters and is descended from the Brahmi script of ancient India. She also identified many of the country’s iconic buildings, including the Angkor Wat, a temple built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II which remains an important religious establishment to this day. Also famous in Cambodia are the Ratanakiri waterfalls and the Preah Vihear temple.
The Sri Lankan table, staffed by Jeevani Dilruksi Kotinkaduwa and Nihal Dabure Liyanage, featured samples of a delicious national dish of rice and coconut shavings. Sri Lanka is a country of a long history and ancient traditions: UNESCO has named six of its ancient cities and two natural locations as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The most prominent of these is the ancient fortified city of Sigiriya, which was built in 500 AD and has been named by UNESCO the “Eighth Wonder of the World” for its unique and seemingly impossible architecture. The two Sri Lankans also described the tradition of stone carving in the area.
Juan Carlos Sosa Valle and Karla Maria Cordova Perez presented about Peru. They began by describing Peru’s unique cultural history, showing pictures of Machu Pichu, the classic temple of the Incans, as well as of modern Spanish-influenced traditions such as the Marinera Dance. They also detailed the process of making pachamanca, a meat and potatoes dish that is cooked in the ground, covered by banana leaves and special cloths. The table also served samples of potato with a spicy cheese dip, a traditional snack in Peru; potatoes originated in the Peru area, and more than 1000 species grow in the area.
Other countries to present included Benin, Uganda, Madagascar, Lao PDR, Bolivia, and Belarus.
The fair concluded with a show featuring dances from the various countries represented by the CDE students.