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UIBE Spring Cultural Fair 2017

“Where are you from? I love your outfit! May I take a photo with you?” Chinese students prodded me in the crowds while I laughed – I wore nothing special. Only my hijab.

Last week under blue Beijing skies, TBC’s host university, the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), put on their yearly Cultural Fair. Not only international students, but Chinese minorities as well set up booths just outside the building TBC calls home. Walk to the right, and you’d pass the likes of Yemen, Oman, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Xinjiang, and Tibet. Walk forward and you’d pass Italy, France, Tanzania, South Korea, and Ethiopia. Turn left and you’ll catch the likes of North Korea, Japan, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and so many more. Here, I’ve listed only perhaps half of the nations represented.

As I have an abundance of Uyghur friends (an ethnicity that hails from the Xinjiang region of China), I immediately set out to locate the Xinjiang booth and found it in a matter of minutes thanks to their colorful headwear. For lunch, I had a bowl of Xinjiang pilaf, then meandered with a friend over to Tanzania while she toyed with a flag handed to her from Saudi Arabia. Each table had its own collection of things: local cuisines, CDs, teas, spices, figurines, jewelry, and an array of other trinkets. Though America did not have a booth this year, TBC students could be found scattered throughout the vicinity. From my vantage point near the Uyghur booth, I was even able to witness one fellow TBC student move from dancing with the Tibetans, to the Uyghurs, to the Tanzanians! Music spilled from nearly every booth. The sidewalk swelled with dancing of all kinds.

 “Sounds like Xinjiang,” my friend giggled from where we sat behind a large speaker. “But it smells like Tibet!” She motioned to the next booth over, incense curling up from small pots. For TBC students such as myself who may not have the means to travel too extensively over the course of a semester in Beijing, UIBE’s annual spring Cultural Fairs offers a small glimpse into areas of the world we might otherwise not see. I encourage any student coming in the spring to bring your camera, free up your afternoon, and come ready to meet wonderful people, Chinese and foreign alike!

By Addy M., Loyola University Chicago, Spring 2017 Student