Tufts International Club (I-Club) expanded its Parade of Nations event this year, adding a week of events celebrating different cultures. The week culminated in the Parade of Nations show, held in Cohen Auditorium on March 2.
According to Uzair Sattar and Akshat Rajan, the president and vice president of I-Club, respectively, the expansion of Parade of Nations to a week was the result of an expansion of the club itself. They explained that I-Club doubled in size and switched to a vertical leadership structure at the start of the year.
Rajan, a senior, explained that I-Club’s new structure has led to wider cultural representation in the group’s activities.
“Because I-Club has more of a tiered structure now in terms of its committees, we’ve been able to get a better mix of people onto the team,” he said. “Different committees on the team can serve different communities within the international community.”
Rajan explained that in the same way, expanding Parade of Nations from a performing arts showcase to a week of events allowed for non-performance groups to get involved. According to a flyer for the week, events included movie nights, a photo exhibition and an international food festival.
Sattar, a sophomore, explained that hosting more events during the week allowed I-Club to support new cultural organizations’ attempts to gain Tufts Community Union (TCU) recognition. According to the TCU Judiciary bylaws, a club must host three public events per semester to be recognized. Sattar and Rajan mentioned BRASA, a Brazilian students’ organization, as an example of one of the new clubs that held an event during the week.
Rajan said that the week brought new faces into I-Club’s community.
“Throughout the week we were able to tie up with clubs who we haven’t worked with in the past, students we haven’t met in the past,” he said.
The centerpiece of the week remained the Parade of Nations show. According to its program, the show featured performances from dance groups Bhangra, Wuzee, Tamasha, Pulse, JumboRaas and TURBO; a cappella groups Essence and Full Sound; drum and dance ensemble Kiniwe; and rapper Gypsy the Poet.
Meha Elhence, co-captain of JumboRaas, praised the show, saying that it gave her group a great opportunity to perform in front of a large audience on campus.
The show also featured the presentation of the 27th Oliver Chapman Leadership and Community Service Award. According to a 2017 Daily article, the award is dedicated to the memory of Oliver Chapman, an international student from Panama who passed away unexpectedly during his senior year in 1992.
Sattar introduced the five seniors nominated for the award — Rajan, Nesi Altaras, Swaraj Priyadarshi, Thaw Htet and Thomas Nyalile. Opening an envelope, he then announced Rajan as the winner of this year’s prize for contributing to I-Club and TEDxTufts throughout his Tufts career.
Rajan said he was happy to have won the award but reserved praise for his fellow nominees.
“Everybody who was nominated has done so much for the international community in different ways,” he said.
The night was also an opportunity for the new director of the International Center, Andrew Shiotani, to address the international community for the first time, according to Rajan. According to a Feb. 5 Daily article, Shiotani joined Tufts in January, replacing outgoing director Jane Etish-Andrews, who retired after 35 years at the center.
Shiotani said that he is thrilled that Tufts’ international community has a student-led tradition like the Parade of Nations.
“It’s absolutely great to have an event like [tonight’s] and a week-long series of events that the students are driving,” he said.
Sattar and Rajan said that the expansion of Parade of Nations to a week was successful, and that they hope that it continues.
Rajan praised Parade of Nations as an opportunity to bring the Tufts international community together in celebration.
“People … just want to come together and go through the process of sharing something, whether it’s food, whether it’s a movie from their culture, whether it’s something as simple as telling some stories of where they grew up,” he said.
Shiotani also spoke to the importance of the Parade of Nations, describing the way it broadens students’ understanding of other cultures.
“This is a really opportune time for us to recognize that we’re part of a global community,” he said. “We really want the international student community … to be part of events [like Parade of Nations] that can really help to bridge those differences and really reinforce a climate of understanding and learning.”