Music, dance, laughter and the smell of blended spices permeated through Barton Hall as Culture Fest commenced for its second annual event, featuring performances, music, food and presentations Sunday afternoon.
Culture Fest began last year in response to racial incidents and hate crimes on campus, according to ALANA Intercultural Board President Elaine Liu ’19. The organizers designed the event as a way to showcase the diversity on campus and “celebrate it through understanding and appreciation,” said Liu.
“We don’t want the celebration of cultures to be a reaction to bad incidences,” said Shemar Christian ’21, vice president of programming for ALANA. “It should just be a constant thing, which is why we are trying to have [Culture Fest] annually.”
This year, ALANA Intercultural Board also collaborated with the International Student Union to host the Culture Fest. According to Venus Dulani ’19 of ISU, the two organizations decided to work together because both ISU and ALANA had the shared goal of “celebrating international diversity.”
The event featured organizations representing a wide array of cultural groups, such as the Cornell Sikh Students Association, Black Students United and South Asian Council, which engaged with students to educate and celebrate their differences.
A new addition to this year’s Culture Fest was the “World Walk,” a segment that focused on international diversity. Groups representing different countries set up tables and presented to students walking on their understanding of home, Dulani said.
World Walk also brought to light issues that many students might not know well, according to Ryan Elbashir ’20, a Sudanese student who plans to create a more formal discussion group next year.
“There have been protests [in Sudan] that have risen in response to this… dictatorship that’s been in place for 30 years, and a lot of people don’t know about it due to lack of coverage,” Elbashir told The Sun.
Performances featured groups including Cornell Eastern Music Ensemble, Sabor Latino Dance Ensemble and Ethiopian Eritrean Student Association. This year, the performing groups also hosted workshops where attendees can learn about the significance of their performance, according to Kathleen Li ’19, ALANA vice president of external affairs.
In addition to performances, Culture Fest also featured a variety of international foods.
“We had this idea of bringing in different cuisines to this event and also give student organizations opportunities to cook and bring their own food to this event to showcase their own culture,” Liu said. “And I think that’s definitely one of my favorite parts. Who doesn’t love food?
For Christian, his favorite part of the festival reflected the mission of Culture Fest itself.
“There’s so much diversity, there’s so much difference, but also so much that unites us,” he told The Sun.