Yumna Rathore, senior
Major(s): Economics and International Development
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Rathore, whose father is a Pakistani diplomat, has also lived in France, Syria, England and Indonesia and now lives in the United States.
“I got so much exposure to different cultures, different food, different kinds of people. … It made me the social person I am, made me the more open-minded person I am.”
Despite living in different places, including going to 14 schools, Rathore said, “I always had to speak in my own language.”
Before living in the U.S., Rathore lived in Pakistan, which she described as a developing country. There were bombings at the time.
Going back to Pakistan during winter break, Rathore said she felt safer and “that the love aspect has increased for my country.”
“When certain events come like Eid … you have fireworks going on like every other street, you have lights, the entire city is full of lights.”
During her visit, she hardly spoke in English, dressed in her national dress and went to many family gatherings, as her family is close.
After graduating, Rathore hopes to pursue a master’s degree in international development or public policy.
Andrei Papancea, sophomore
Speaks: Romanian, German and Hungarian
Major(s): Computer Science and Economics
From Sfantu Gheorghe, “St. George,” Romania, about 50 miles from Dracula’s Castle, Papancea said he had a lot of fun growing up.
“As a child, I did a lot of things … most of the people in the U.S. have never faced,” Papancea said. “I’ve seen how most animals look like, I know how vegetables grow and where they grow from and stuff like that. I’ve bumped into people that don’t necessarily know tomatoes are green initially before they turn red.”
Describing Romania, Papancea said it is different than the U.S. as the average salary is about $250 a month and for school, science students do not use calculators but pencils for their calculations.
This year, Papancea was part of the executive committee in charge of I-Fair.
“I was very anxious and nervous to walk down the aisle and go on stage,” Papancea said, recounting his first time participating in the I-Fair flag parade. “And at a certain extent, I was surprised that this happened the second time as well because I knew how it felt and all that. The feelings didn’t change at all. I find it interesting and exciting to represent your country in such a way.”
Dushawn Darling, freshman
Speaks: Patois (or “broken English”)
As children, Darling said Jamaicans are exposed to more than those in America and described Jamaica as “a lot more free.”
“In America, it’s like ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ In Jamaica, As soon as you reached the age of 16, you can move out, you can go to the club, they didn’t have a liquor age so you weren’t exposed to a lot,” Darling said.
In Jamaica, in addition to American English, Jamaicans speak Patois — “broken English,” a mix of English, Creo and a little bit of Spanish — and British English, which those who are considered “proper” or high in the business world speak.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Darling moved to Chicago with his family when he was 11.
“Me and Jamaica, we have differences but it’s actually nice to go back to your roots and feel like you’re playing a part in something really big,” Darling said of the flag parade.
Besides representing his country, Darling performed with ABLE (Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality), solo and cooked for Lo Nuestro.
As for the international food buffet, Darling said, “I know I can’t go around the whole world all my life but I can at least do it this one day.”
“I love it. It was the best thing ever. I didn’t know that a group of people could put something that beautiful together,” Darling said, summing up his I-Fair experience.
Louise Paris, junior
Speaks: Portuguese, Spanish
“People in Brazil, they are very happy, they are very warm. They like to laugh a lot and they are very creative,” Paris said.
From Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, Paris described Brazil as a big country with many influences from Dutch, Portuguese, African, German and Italian cultures.
“It was nice to grow up around such different people. … You have friends that are black, friends that are from Japan,” Paris said.
While at university in San Paulo, as a medical student, Paris’ best friends were from China and Japan.
At I-Fair, Paris said she enjoyed it because she likes to see different cultures with her friends dressing in their traditional clothes and writing in their own languages.
“It’s … why I adapted really fast to Knox because Knox is a different background too … You have a lot of cultures and it just felt home because of that,” Paris said.
Celestina Agyekum, senior
Major(s): Elementary Education
Agyekum moved to the states six years ago, she said, “I still feel a strong sense of belonging and connection so it was very nice to represent [Ghana] and praise my country and my heritage that way, away from home.”
Agyekum described Ghana as tropical, hot and sunny.
“It’s a cheerful place. People are always giving; people are always smiling. People are always making things work in ways that really will surprise you, the way they just make ends meet, the way they receive visitors and they do things really from their heart.”