As I enter Burgburst, I see countless national flags enshrouding the Ballroom and a faint golden glow of fairy lights dimly lighting every international booth in the space. This ambience is juxtaposed by the organized disarray unfolding inside. You hear everyone and no one at once. You watch as students drift in and around these booths, each filling their plates with a given country’s cuisine. The combinations are representative of the campus tradition more broadly—sushi next to chicken tikka masala, General Tso’s alongside humus.
Burgburst is a beautiful, moving instance when the entire Gettysburg College community rallies in one location to celebrate diversity and oneness through intercultural food, attire, and performance. It’s the kind of joyful chaos that creates a true sense of togetherness.
As a first-year international student, this is my first Burgburst. I proudly wear my Nepalese traditional attire, Daura Suruwal, and prepare to represent my culture through the Flagwalk—a Burgburst staple where students from varying countries walk across the stage to be celebrated, with their national flag in hand.
A flurry of colors flow by the stage and Burgburst 2021 officially begins. The fairy lights dim and attendees move toward their seats. Burgburst provides a platform for performers throughout our campus to showcase their own unique talents. I hear music from Turkey. I learn of wind instruments I didn’t even know existed. B.O.M.B. Squad, the College’s in-house dance crew, leaves everyone in awe. Students from South Asia dance to a Bollywood mashup and invite everyone to the stage—and the once-seated audience is now roaring and letting their inner-Bollywood loose. The joyful chaos grows.
Somewhere between these extraordinary performances, I go up with my guitar to play in front of a silent sea of twinkling lights and silhouettes. I play Chutyo (“To leave”), a Nepali composition I wrote about leaving home and venturing into a new unknown. As I finish the song, the joyful chaos echoes throughout the venue and energizes me from within. It is a memory I will never forget.
For me, experiencing this joyful chaos firsthand strangely gave me clarity. It made me realize that I have a family and a support system here at Gettysburg. It gave me a sense of belonging and showed me that although I may be in a new country, learning alongside people with completely different tastes and from completely different backgrounds, these differences are what bring us closer together as Gettysburgians and will keep us connected long after graduation.
I also realized I am one person, from one small corner of the world, and there is so much for me to explore and learn from the world. This is what keeps me grounded, keen to travel, and eager to learn more about the world in the next few years here at the College, whether it be through study abroad or intercultural classes.
For these reasons, Burgburst is so much more than just an international event. It is a community event. It offers the kind of joyful chaos that makes you think about and truly appreciate diversity. It made me realize that in a predominantly white, small town in south-central Pennsylvania, Gettysburg College is a microcosm of the world—a place where I have the space to grow as an individual in a global community that inculcates cultural understanding and values diversity.
View the gallery from Burgburst 2021
By Ratul Rauniar Pradhan ’25
Photos by Anh Nguyen ’22