SUNY New Paltz is fortunate to be a home away from home to hundreds of international students from the world over. The College’s annual Multicultural Fair is their opportunity to share their favorite things from home with our community.
During this year’s International Student Union (ISU) Multicultural Fair, students from Argentina to Japan came together to showcase the food, attire, music, dance and other favorite aspects of their national culture with faculty and friends.
The event marked a happy return of a campus tradition after two years of COVID-19 disruption. In many ways, the pandemic impacted international students even more than those from within the U.S., curtailing their ability to travel and to make friends on campus.
That context gave this year’s Fair extra significance, especially for seniors who have been waiting for moments like these for more than two years.
“When the pandemic hit, I had to say goodbye to a lot of my friends, and I felt lonely,” said ISU President Emely Jorge ’22 (History), who is originally from the Dominican Republic. “I see that today there’s a big population of international students here, and I’m glad to know they came through.”
The event is not only for international students – it’s imbued with the spirit of cultural exchange that defines international programs at New Paltz more broadly, serving domestic students, faculty and staff with opportunities to experience and learn more about parts of the world that may seem distant.
“One of the advantages of our American-born students meeting people from another country is they learn things they didn’t even recognize before,” said Beth Vargas, executive director of the Center for International Programs. “I think that it’s super important for students to be able to have this experience without ever leaving their dorm room.”
The Fair is a culminating event for members of the International Student Union, which remains one of the largest and most active student organizations on the New Paltz campus.
“From day one, I fell in love with this beautiful family,” said Jorge. “I knew I had to join the executive board, and I have been here ever since.”
More information about international opportunities for students here and abroad is available from the Center for International Programs at SUNY New Paltz.