The student organization Horizons International encouraged Ohio Wesleyan’s many cultural groups to collide this Saturday.
Their event, “Culture Fest,” encouraged different cultural groups on campus to display their pride through performances and food.
Sophomore Priyanka Venkataraman, public relations officer of Horizons International, said, “The primary organization that sets up and runs Culture Fest is Horizons International, but we work with the other main clubs on campus who help us by providing performances and food.”
It is Horizons International that runs the majority of the event.
“The other main clubs are Rafiki Wa Afrika, the Vietnamese club, the Chinese Club, and Viva, as well as Tauheed,” said Venkataraman. “A lot of cultures are represented, but the main ones are Indians, Pakistanis, Africans, Jamaicans, Chinese, Spanish, Latin American and Vietnamese – as these are the main clubs that are involved.”
The event was tinged with a theme of interfaith connection, which was used as another unifying factor amongst these different cultures. A reading from the Quran, translated by junior Hank Owings, opened up the performances.
Groups involved in the festival performed songs and dances.
The American Sign Language Club performed the song “1234” by The Plain White Tees.
Junior Amanda Caserta said one of the reasons she came to Culture Fest was to support her friends in ASL club.
Dancing was also a prevalent aspect of the event. Salsa dancing, put on by VIVA, got the crowd involved. Members of VIVA danced with people from the audience, including Sally Leber, Interim Director of Service Learning.
The Vietnamese Student Association did a bamboo dance, which involved dancers hopping through sticks before they clap together. President Rock Jones was taken from the audience to participate.
Students also participated in a choreographed dance to pop music from Korea.
Music was shared through songs in different languages from the Chinese Culture Club and Rafiki Wa Afrika, and a flute performance by senior Guanyi Yang.
The final performance was a “Desi” interpretation of Cinderella, where many students told the classic tale through dancing and rich costumes.
The term “Desi” refers to the people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent.
Caserta said she had seen the group practicing the Desi performance for weeks, and was very excited to finally see it all put together.
After the performances, food was served from all different regions of the world, prepared mostly by the different cultural organizations on campus. Students and faculty chattered about the performances as they stood in line for food.
Senior Eric Charette said he had an amazing time at the festival and that he felt the performances were really informative, engaging, and vastly entertaining.
Some students felt that Culture Fest was fundamental to bringing the student body together.
Senior Kelly Crunkilton said she felt Culture Fest was a really fun and important way to bring together groups that normally would not interact otherwise.
Terree Stevenson, Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, echoed Crunkilton and said, “I loved the performances – they were wonderful. I thought it was a great mix of culture and music to bring everyone together, to see the mixture of not only students involved but also the people attending. It is truly a great community event. So, I am not only pleased to be here, but also honored to be at such a community event.”
Venkataraman said Culture Fest is one event everyone looks forward to every year, and Horizons International is already thinking of what to do for next year.
She said a lot of people love to help set up, perform, cook food and do all sorts of things just to be involved.
Venkataraman said, in general, that everyone has a very positive attitude towards the event, including staff and faculty.