International Friday: Celebrating Khmer New Year
On April 14, Beloit College’s Cambodian students hosted a Khmer New Year celebration in the Powerhouse.
Khmer New Year is the most important festival in Cambodia. During the three day celebration, Cambodian families gather to eat, pray, play games, and dance.
To celebrate the New Year, Phidor Kong’23, Voleak Phan’23, , Seakguech Sok’21, Channtha Sum’24, and Chamnan Suon’22 hosted a fruit stand in the Powerhouse and invited fellow Beloiters to join them.
Participants were able to learn about Cambodian traditional games, traditional clothing, and greetings, and to write their name using the Khmer script. They also enjoyed tropical fruits and paper decorations resembling those prepared by Cambodian families on the first day of the celebration. Houses are decorated and fruits and drinks prepared to welcome the New Angels who visit to inaugurate the New Year.
Students’ eagerness to learn about her culture and customs was heartwarming for Guech Sok’21, and she was overjoyed to have had the opportunity to share the special occasion with so many people.Holding the event made Beloit feel a little bit more like home to her.
This was the first time she was able to celebrate the New Year at Beloit. When she arrived here as a first year student, she was the only Cambodian student on campus, and had no one else to celebrate with. Now the number of Cambodian students has grown to five, and she is grateful to have been able to celebrate with them.
Chamnan Sum’24 shared a similar reflection:
“Being over 10,000 miles away from my hometown makes me miss my family and my culture so much. I celebrate Khmer New Year with my family every year. So celebrating Khmer New Year is always something I want to do anywhere I go. Now with other Khmer students on campus, this celebration was possible, and I am so happy. This celebration made me feel close to home, I won’t forget where I come from and the tradition and culture I grew up with.”
Events such as this one are perfect examples of the value international education holds. Not only does it enrich the campus community, but it broadens the academic experience. Learning and teaching are not only conferred to the classrooms, but occur through student interactions and intercultural exchanges such as this New Year celebration.