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Lititz’s good fortune
Casey Chen of China wants people to know something about her country.
“Fortune cookies are not from China,” says Chen, a student at Linden Hall, adding that the cookies with a paper fortune inside were created here in the U.S. for Chinese restaurants that may or may not serve authentic Chinese food.
Chen was one of more than a dozen students at Linden Hall to participate in International Night, which was held on Sunday, March 2. The countries represented the homeland of Linden Hall students, and included Bhutan, Ethiopia, China, India, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Thailand and Turkey.
Chen was joined by Dorothy Wang, also of China. Both are in their second year as Linden Hall students, and accomplished musicians. They played the Chinese stringed instrument known as a pipa, which is shaped almost like a pear, producing a soft, gentle strumming sound.
Wang and Chen have studied the pipa for several years and often play together in the traditional Chinese style of music. They also displayed traditional Chinese brush paintings and calligraphy, as well as beautifully decorated fans. Both girls wore Chinese silk clothing with delicate embroidery, Wang in a traditional dress known as cheong-sam and Chen in a cape over her dress.
The International Night was intended to highlight the countries from which Linden Hall students hail, offering them an opportunity to share their cultures and giving other students and the public a chance to learn more about places they only know from the news.
Baasanjav of Mongolia wanted people to know that her country is not a vast wilderness. She comes from the city of Ulaanbaatar, which is the cultural, industrial and economic heart of her country.
“Mongolia lies between Russia and China, and through the centuries there has been much fighting for control,” says Baasanjav, adding that Mongolia has its own unique religion, known as Shamanism, which originated with the nomads, as well as Tibetan Buddhism.
Abigail Thomas of Ethiopia also wanted to dispel ideas of what her homeland is like.
A senior at Linden Hall, Thomas has been a student for four years. She is looking at colleges now, and while she is still making her final choice, she thinks she might like a city like New York.
“Many people don’t realize that we have big cities and malls in Ethiopia,” says Thomas, who wore a gauzy white traditional dress called a habesha kemis, accents of gold and black.
Many of the international students were dressed in beautiful traditional dress in rich fabrics and colors, some more beautiful than the most sparkly prom dress.
Sisters Elif and Ceylan Aydinli of Turkey wore exquisitely embroidered dresses with golden accents. Elif’s dress was a deep purple maroon with an overdress on top of a golden underdress. Ceylan wore a similar dress in a deep forest green.
“This is the type of dress young women wear before they get married,” says Elif, adding that the Turkish tradition involves a tearful ceremony when the young woman realizes she is leaving her family and going to her husband’s family.
The sisters have been students at Linden Hall for a year, and have many relatives in the United States, including parents and grandparents. They wanted to tell people about their homeland of Turkey, a country that straddles Europe and Asia.
Another fashion-show moment came with the full-skirted dress of Jennifer Ra of Korea. Originally from Seoul, Ra wore a hanbok, which is a traditional empire-waisted dress with a full, flowing skirt. Ra’s hanbok had vibrant colors of gold, green and white stripes with a full red silk skirt and a purple bow.
“Korea is very modern though,” says Ra, adding that K-pop music is popular in South Korea, growing in popularity in the U.S.
Xumsel Chhodon of Bhutan shared her culture with visitors, explaining that Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia located at the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east and west by India.
“So there are influences from both China and India,” says Chhodon, who is in her first year at Linden Hall.
International Night is organized by the Linden Hall Student Council, with the purpose of demonstrating different cultures to the public, that encourages open-mindedness, and displays positive aspects about other countries.
Judy Conlin, advisor to the student council, says that the event has been going on for many years, and she has been an advisor for more than 10 years. The students enjoy sharing their cultures and visitors can learn about faraway places.
“And there is dessert!” says Conlin, as she helped to slice a variety of desserts that included Italian tiramisu, Swiss lemon cake, German black forest cake, Indian shira and Pennsylvania German red velvet cake.
Laurie Knowles Callanan, a veteran freelance writer, got her start in the newspaper business when she was hired as a general assignment reporter by former Record Express owner Bob Campbell. One of her first assignments was interviewing Lititz artist David Brumbach at Linden Hall.
by Laurie Knowles Callanan