Annual Culture Fair at Red River High School promotes appreciation for others' traditions
The sambusa—similar to a Hot Pocket—was getting rave reviews from students clustered around several serving tables at the second annual Culture Fair on Tuesday at Red River High School.
Ramla Ali and Hibaq Mohamud, both seniors and natives of Somalia, offered samples of the fried pockets of meat—flavored with onion, cilantro and other spices—wrapped in dough.
"You can use chicken or tuna and vegetables, if you want," Ali said.
"There's a lot of different kinds of food in the world," she said. "We live together. We eat American food, and we love it.
"It's good to share some of what we know. It's good to show (fellow students) what I have and see their reaction," which is often positive, she said. "They like it because it's dough and meat."
For Ali and other students involved in the event, their purpose may be a bit more lofty.
"We just want to share love and food," Ali said with a smile.
Promoting cross-cultural understanding is the intent behind the Culture Fair. The event, which ran from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Performance Hall, included dancing, games, food sampling, educational booths and other examples of the traditions representing the Nepalese, Somali, German, French, Chinese, Latin and Philippine cultures.
Juniors Nita Regmi, 16, and Deepa Rai, 17, hosted an exhibit of the "saree," the colorful, embroidered and intricately decorated skirt and scarf that women in Nepal and India wear for special occasions.
"A lot of students try it on," Regmi said.
Nearby, Darshika Sujato and Pokhrel Sujato, both seniors who are originally from Nepal, demonstrated the art of Henna, which uses a plant-based paint to decorate the hand.
The artform is most commonly used for the self-adornment of women for weddings and festivals in India, Nepal and Somalia.
At another booth, sophomore Fatuma Ahmed, 15, was wearing traditional garb for Islamic women, including the hijab headscarf.
Fatuma, a native of Yemen who moved to Grand Forks with her family six years ago, said she wants to help other students "understand why we wear the hijab."
"People ask why we wear them. Some think we're forced to," which isn't true, she said. "I enjoy wearing them. It's a big part of my religion."
This is the second year she's been involved in the Culture Fair, she said.
"It's a cool event for people to join, and be part of and enjoy," Fatuma said.
She wants her fellow students to benefit from a closer look at the tradition of her culture, she said.
"I hope they will enjoy it, understand it and learn from it, not judge it," she said.