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Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Jesse McLean

Arts & Life Editor

It’s time to be honest. I don’t drink wine; I don’t understand Bollywood; and for the last month, my meals have rotated between Wonderbread and cereal.

To put it bluntly, I’m the average, uncultured white kid. That said, I’m the completely wrong person to judge a caravan of different cultural groups.

But when the RSU asked me to preside over Thursday’s festivities, I accepted. I figured that I’d just check out a few Bristol boards, learn to say “thank you” in a new language and get a free meal. Sounded great.

But my quick mouth was soon stuffed with crow. The upper-level of the Hub overflowed with students. My eyes scanned the 45 different tables — the 45 different cultures — and it hit me: there was no way I could remember that many foreign words.

But the immensity of the displays overwhelmed me. Between the authentic Serbian peasants and the West Indian Student Association’s fully-functioning waterfall, I realized the effort each group had poured into the event.

In fact, a good portion of the groups must have spent well over the first-place prize of $150. And that’s just what’s so admirable. Although it was a competition by name, the caravan was a festival of inclusion.

People of all cultures sampled new foods while keeping arms open to startling self-realizations. Take the example of Ryerson In Motions Society, whose bike set-up showed me how out of shape I really am.

Or the role player’s society who, by ignoring me, made me question my choice of trading in my Magic cards for some out-of-print LPs.

Oh divine retribution, why must you smite me? I made a friend with Hillel of Greater Toronto, the woman behind the table offering the “world’s best humus” made in an archaic town outside Israel. It was delicious, the best I ever had.

But where could I buy such a delicacy? “I just bought it at Sobey’s,” she admitted.

We laughed, and I took down the name for my next grocery trip. A few rows down, a table of Bengalis pleaded that I dress in a sari, a traditional women’s garment. To inflate my masculinity, I spread my arms as the women wrapped a pink, floral-patterned cloth around me. It was a summer sari, they assured: made of cotton for good ventilation. A relief, I suppose. It wasn’t until I was fully adorned did they dress another man in a lungi, a stylish wear for men.

As the women let out playful laughs and snapped photos for their website, I smiled and posed. At least they spared me from the jewelry.

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