Sunday, April 10, was cold, overcast, windy—a typical April day when the weather wasn’t quite chilly enough to still be considered winter, but wasn’t quite warm enough to be spring.
Yet, that didn’t stop the mammoth herd of Amherst students, faculty, staff, family members and admitted students from attending this year’s City Streets festival. Every spring, City Streets celebrates the rich internationality and diversity of Amherst’s community, featuring foods from around the world, live music and outdoor games such as an oversized chessboard.
Flags from 145 countries also surrounded the Greenway Quad, representing the breadth of nations Amherst students call home. Students queued up in long lines to experience foods from Morocco, Nepal, India, Mexico, Paris, and New Orleans. They stopped by the stage to dance along to music from the Zumbyes, the Bluestockings, and the African group Crocodile River Music.
This festival was not just special but unique: It was the last one the community would celebrate with Biddy Martin as president of the College. She founded the festival in 2013.
Top left: International students Arzoo Rajpar ’22 (Tanzania), Jesmyda Viyano ’22 (Zimbabwe), Natasha Semwaga ’22 (Rwanda), Cynthia Henry ’22 (Tanzania) and Alfred Kibowen ’23 (Kenya) sample dishes from around the world. Bottom right: Cydmarie Ramos, a cook with campus Dining Services, displays a tray of beignets, a delicate New Orleans pastry. Top right and bottom left: Dishes from the Mexican food tent, a tostada and churros with chocolate sauce.
Our impromptu and unscientific survey determined that the chicken momo dumplings from the Nepali tent, prepared by Amherst’s Dining Services, were the most popular dish of the day. Snigdha Ranjan ’25, a self-described expert who hails from India (Nepal’s neighbor), said they came “pretty close to the original filling, so it was pretty nice!”
Other popular dishes included the chicken tikka masala from the Indian tent and the dulce de leche served by the Paris Crêperie. Dining Services prepared half of the menu.
Top left: To the far left, David Ko, director of the Center for International Student Engagement (CISE), with students from Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Korea, Singapore, Ukraine, Honduras, Uruguay and Venezuela. Top right and bottom left: Nepali chicken momo dumplings and Moroccan harira, a traditional soup served during Ramadan. In 2022, April overlaps with the month of Ramadan.
Top left: April 10 was also Admitted Students Day. A few admitted students mingled with current students and joined the City Streets celebration. Bottom right: A chef from Bombay Royale restaurant grills paratha, an unleavened Indian bread. Top right and bottom left: Chicken tikka masala from Bombay Royale and falafel with tahini sauce from the Holyoke Hummus food truck.
On a stage that overlooked the entire event, Crocodile River Music (top right) played exciting and upbeat African songs as crowds walked between the tents and ate. Amherst student a cappella groups the Bluestockings (top left) and the Zumbyes followed with a variety of classic pop songs and ballads.
Members of the Choral Society and friends (top left) enjoy Moroccan spiced chicken skewers with apricot-date glaze (top right) and Nepali sel roti—sweet ring-shaped rice bread (bottom right)—prepared by Dining Services.
Top left: Sam Wright ’23, Scott Romeyn ’22 and Tyler Fields ’25 of the Zumbyes. Bottom right: Jonah Horowitz ’22, Kyabeth Rincón ’22 and Maria Gramotina ’22. Top right and bottom left: Moroccan spiced tempeh and vegetable skewer prepared by Dining Services and sweet crepes by the Paris Crêperie.
Many songs performed by the a cappella groups were dedicated to President Biddy Martin, who, earlier this year, announced that the 2021–22 academic year would be her last in the position. (After a year sabbatical, Martin will return to teach at Amherst as a member of the faculty.)
During their performance, a member of the Zumbyes said into the microphone, “We were invited because we heard that one of Biddy’s favorite things on campus was spending time with students.” Martin replied with a resounding, “YES! It is my favorite thing.”
Top: The Zumbyes serenade President Martin. Bottom: Martin shows her excitement for the performance as Lisa Zheutlin ’22, who had previously been chatting with the president, applauds behind her.
When asked about founding City Streets, Martin said, “I came up with the idea of having big community-wide festivals, and so I’m just really happy that we now have three a year”—Fall Festival, Winter Festival and City Streets. She added, “Experiencing ourselves as a community is a really good thing.”
Top left: President Martin with Hannah Gariepy ’24 and Julissa Tello ’23. Top right and bottom left: Martin’s Mint Chip with chocolate sauce from Maple Valley Creamery and dulce de leche from the Paris Crêperie.
As part of our impromptu, unscientific survey, we asked President Martin what her favorite food was. Her answer? Ice cream.
That’s why, in her honor, an ice cream tent was set up at City Streets next to a sign that read, Biddyweg, German for “Biddy Lane,” and Martinstraße, meaning “Martin Street.” (Martin holds a Ph.D. in German literature.) The tent served flavors such as Martin’s Mint Chip, Positively Presidential Chocolate and Biddy’s Chillin’ Vanilla, all from Maple Valley Creamery.
Beside the ice cream was a basket in which each student could leave President Martin a farewell note.
The event stretched into the evening so that those observing Ramadan could break their fasts after sunset. Middle right and bottom left: Mexican street corn and ancho chili and New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp, prepared by Dining Services.
As the sun set on the day and the Zumbyes sang one of the last songs in their set, we asked President Martin what she will miss most about the College. “Oh, my goodness, there are so many things!” she said.
“Primarily, the students and faculty, the intellectual life of the place and the beauty of the campus. Observing the relationships between the faculty and students at Amherst has really inspired me. I’ve been at other institutions, and I’ve never seen anything like the closeness and the bond students and faculty [have],” Martin said. “That opportunity to get to know one another and the opportunity for undergraduates to do research with faculty is really wonderful. There’s almost nothing that I won’t miss.”
The Zumbyes end their performance with their signature final jump. As is their custom, one member is dressed in a giant banana costume. But if you ask them about the banana onstage, they will deny it was ever there.
Bottom: Caden McClure ’24E, Charlie Sutherby ’23E, Rebecca Awuah ’24E and Memo Rodriguez ’22 of the Zumbyes pose with President Biddy Martin.
It was clear that students would equally miss President Martin. “To all of us, Biddy’s an influencer,” said Lisa Zheutlin ’22. “Biddy’s a celebrity on campus.”
For Diana Daniels ’22, Biddy is an icon. Recalling how the president rode a horse into last fall’s celebration of the College’s Bicentennial, Daniels asked, “Who else is going to do that?” Zumbyes member Memo Rodriguez ’22 (far right on bottom photo) noted, “It’s her last City Streets, and she started it, so we wanted her to feel loved and appreciated.”