New American Scholars


New American Scholars is a proud sponsor of the Concord Multicultural Festival

New American Scholars founder Riyah Patel with her Dad and sister Kiki.


New Hampshire’s history as a vibrant and diverse community was on full display at the annual Concord Multicultural Festival, which brought different cultures to Keach Park in Concord on September 18.


New American Scholars proudly sponsored and participated in this year’s celebratory event. President and founder Riyah Patel joined the other attendees in sampling food, taking in performances, and admiring art from different regions of the world.


In one of the marquee events at the festival, Patel carried the Pakistan flag during the Parade of Flags, which honored the more than 70 countries represented during the celebration.


“The Multicultural Festival is a celebration of what makes each of us special and unique. It fosters respect, open-mindedness and appreciation for other cultures and perspectives,” Patel said. “And while cultural diversity should be celebrated every day, today we pay special tribute to all the cultures and customs that enrich our community and make it strong and vibrant.”


In total, there were 13 food vendors that included Caribbean cuisine, Nepali momos, Mexican tamales and jollof rice, beef stew, chicken and meat pies from Somalia and Ghana.


The variety of cuisines were complemented by 15 performances throughout the day that included Burundian drummers, a Chinese lion dance ceremony, Irish dancers, and Nepali folk and classical music, among others.


Riyah Patel with Concord City Councilwoman Stacey Brown.


A long history of welcoming refugees

The festival’s roots date back to the 1990s when Concord was designated as a resettlement community. The first groups of refugees were mostly from eastern European countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.


The festival’s popularity and representation grew as African and east Asian refugees resettled in New Hampshire. Refugees from Syria and the Rohingya from Myanmar have been some of the most recent additions to the celebration.


The festival also acknowledges New Hampshire’s long history as a home to many different groups, which started with the Pennacook Tribe of the Abenaki followed by British, French Canadian, Swede and Italian immigrants.


At its core, the festival is about honoring and celebrating the different cultures that help make the Granite State a great place to live.


“We all need to come together over fun things. Food, music and art is always a great way to connect. Learning about other cultures is so important, not just about the new Americans that are here,” festival director Jessica Livingston told WMUR9. “The immigrants, the refugees, it's about connecting with everybody.”


The festival’s mission state’s that it hopes to “to foster an appreciation for diversity by providing engaging opportunities to share and learn about the many different cultures of the Capital Region, creating a Welcoming Community for all.”


Colombian Folklore Dance: Cumbia by the dance troop Barranquilla Flavor.


The difference a few years makes

The festival provided the opportunity for volunteers, students and tutors from New American Scholars to interact with the broader Granite State refugee community. This was a positive change from 2020 when the festival was cancelled, and 2021, when the festival was scaled back.


Patel was initially inspired to start New American Scholars during the height of the COVID pandemic because such gatherings like the multicultural festival weren’t possible, and many refugee students were struggling with isolation and lack of resources.


The cheerful and welcoming tone during the 2022 festival was a reminder that New Hampshire residents are resilient and committed to making the state a more diverse and inclusive place.


“Events like this shows that New American Scholars is just one part of a larger group that is working together for refugees,” Patel said. “There is a lot of momentum behind our mission, and it will be great to be back here next year and see how much more we have accomplished.”


Click here to learn more about New American Scholars.


View more photos from the 2022 Multiculural Festival