Over a hundred students and community residents gathered on Old Campus Sunday afternoon to celebrate New Haven’s diversity and support its refugee and immigrant community at this year’s RISE Multicultural Festival.
The festival featured tables of food, crafts, games and information, as well as dance and poetry performances. The festival was hosted by Refugee Immigrant Student Education and sponsored by the Asian American Cultural Center, Dwight Hall and the Office of International Students and Scholars.
“It’s just an opportunity to bring the Yale community with the New Haven community and the larger refugee and immigrant community, which is really important,” event organizer and RISE Co-President Abdah Adam ’21 said.
Several University groups participated in the event, including the Yale African Students Association, the Middle East and North Africa Cultural Club, Students for Yemen, the Yale South Asian Society, Yale Jashan Bhangra, Yale Kalaa and poets from La Casa Cultural.
City organizations were also present, including Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services and Sanctuary Kitchen. In addition, RISE gave out food from Lalibela, Zaroka, Jeera Thai, 0 Degree Thai Ice Cream and Soul de Cuba.
“The multicultural festival has been a really great way for many different organizations to come together and represent different cultures here on campus,” said Yara El-Khatib ’21. El-Khatib was at the event to represent the Middle East and North Africa Cultural Club — a group recently founded with the goal of getting a cultural house for MENA-identifying students and promoting MENA cultural inclusion on campus.
Attendees and organizers interviewed by the News emphasized that the festival brings together members of the Yale and greater New Haven community.
Iyala Alai ’22, who was in attendance representing the Yale African Students Association, said that the event provided an opportunity for Yale students to become familiar with different cultures. She hopes that it will inspire more Yale students to become engaged with her community and others in the future.
Branford High School junior Nour Shraiki, who is Syrian and immigrated to the United States with her family seven years ago, came to the event because her mother’s friend, a Syrian chef, was selling goods and publicizing her business. In an interview with the News, Shraiki emphasized the significance of the event.
“[The festival] teaches you about the different backgrounds of all the people who came from different countries and through this event you will get to know them more,” Shraiki said. “I feel like if people had a certain stereotype about some person from a country, meeting all these nice people, I’m pretty sure, they are going to change their perspective.”
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