Parkland welcomes the world with international fair

Peter Floess

Staff Writer

On Thursday, March 30, from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. in the Student Union, Parkland will host its 20th Cultures Fair, presenting a collection of international cultures and their foods, music, and environments.

The fair this year is jointly run by the Center of Global Student Studies at the University of Illinois.

English-as-a-second-language instructor Amber Landis, who helps to organize the Cultures Fair, says the proceeds from a jerk chicken lunch that will be offered by Caribbean Grill from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. in U140 will go towards a new scholarship for international students.

Along with being excited about how the jerk chicken lunch will help fund the new scholarship for international students, Antwanette Newton—an international student advisor with Parkland’s Counseling and Advising Center—enjoys the Cultures Fair because she thinks it’s a wonderful event “to just let other Parkland students and the community know about their culture and background.”

“I hope that all of the students, faculty, and staff at Parkland who attend the fair, or even who are just walking by, get excited by the music; the pounding Korean drums or the beautiful singing of African group, Super Mazumzum,” Landis says. “I also hope that the international and immigrant students who are on campus and in our community, feel happy and part of our campus when they see their own cultures being represented at the fair. Last year, when Bomoyi played, a bunch of Congolese students went up on stage to dance. I’d love to see that happen again.”

International Admissions Advisor Chris Jackson says Parkland College has 250 official international students.

“However Parkland College’s student body is much more diverse than that,” Jackson says, “as there is a significant number of U.S. Citizens and permanent residents who are originally from other countries or whose parents come from foreign countries.”

One of those students is Mia Radanavong. She says she has enjoyed her time at Parkland.

“I absolutely love this college because of what it offers students, especially towards minorities,” Radanavong says. “Clubs like the English Conversation Club and Club Latino have helped make my first year here an enjoyable one. You are able to meet people from all over the world while getting a valuable education. Not only that, but the faculty are very welcoming.”

While Parkland has students representing numerous parts of the world, there are a few countries that are the most common countries of origin.

“The most common countries of origin of Parkland College international students are China, South Korea, India, and Democratic Republic of the Congo,” says Jackson.

Jackson says it is unclear how President Donald Trump’s executive orders will affect international student recruitment at Parkland, but hopes that the effect will be as minimal as possible.

“Those countries that were affected by the executive orders were not countries that we saw a high number of students receiving visas from in the first place. What might affect international recruitment more is going to be the global perception that such rhetoric and other acts around the country precipice,” he says. “Unfortunately, students who do not feel as though they will be welcome or safe in the United States are not going to want to study here, regardless of any legal or official standings on the matter. Champaign-Urbana is a very diverse community that in the past has been open and welcoming to refugees from around the world. We hope that they and their children continue to use Parkland College as a valuable community resource in the future,” says Jackson.

The event will feature the following performances in the order in which they appear:

– The Champaign-Urbana based African Jazz Band Super Mazumzum will be playing music from Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia on the Main Stage at 11 a.m.

– From 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. in U140, Caribbean Grill will cater a Jerk Chicken Lunch with a DJ providing music. The Jerk Chicken lunch will be serve with “fried plantains, and rice and beans,” says Landis.

– A Congolese rumba ensemble called Bomoyi led by Jean Rene Balekita is playing at 12 p.m. on the Main Stage.

– The UIUC-based South Korean drumming group called Gah Rahk Mah Dahng is playing at 1 p.m. on the Main Stage.

– From 1:30 p.m.–2:10 p.m. in U140, the UIUC’s Japan House will demonstrate a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

– Champaign-based Latin American instrumental quartet called Los Guapos plays at 2 p.m. on the Main Stage. They will play salsa, cumbia, rumba, and son montuno.

– At 3 p.m. in U140, Rural Sociologist Hua Qin from the University of Missouri will give a lecture on “migration patterns in China.” 

There will also be tables set up for the English Conversation Club, German Club, Spanish Club, Club Latino, Japanese Culture Club, and for Parkland Study Abroad. There will be tables offering henna tattoos and an international student quiz show as well.

Landis says Parkland students are needed to “help serve food at the luncheon as well as to help staff the tables.”

Students interested in volunteering can contact her at