Ethnic diversity celebrated at St. John’s

In the world in which we live, it is a heartening sight to see different cultures celebrating their diversity together. On Tuesday evening, St. John’s students of various ethnicities did just that by coming together for a night of food and dancing, embracing the differences that so often polarize separate cultures.

Multicultural Night was sponsored by Philippine-Americans Reaching Everyone (P.A.R.E.), Campus Activities, and the Office of Study Abroad. While a multicultural event was held in the past in Carnesecca Arena, this was the first Multicultural Night organized by P.A.R.E. held in Marillac Auditorium.

“The idea came up in the beginning of the semester,” P.A.R.E. member Pamela David said. ‘We wanted to reach out to all the organizations.”

Among the cultural groups that participated in this year’s event were the Guyanese Students Association, Gaelic Society, Hispanic Cultural Society, Sigma Sigma Ro, Caribbean Students Association, Asian Student Association, and the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS).

P.A.R.E. decided to hold the event during the International Education Week organized by the Office of Study Abroad.

The night began in the UC Commons with cultural food and desserts from the different organizations, including sausage rolls from the Gaelic Society, empanatas from OLAS, and meat and rice dishes from the members of P.A.R.E.

“When you say Filipino, two things come to mind: food and dancing,” David said. “Today’s event is an example of them both.”

During the food fair, students sampled barbecue sticks, “a staple at Filipino parties” according to David. P.A.R.E also served a meat and onion eggroll known as lumpia, the Filipino pasta dish pansit, which consists of noodles with vegetables and eggs, and the rice-type dessert puto, which resembles a tiny muffin.

While a low turnout was expected, a surprising number of students came to sample the foods. Afterward, the groups demonstrated different cultural dances. Sigma Sigma Ro’s president performed a semi classical dance that incorporated the traditional style of India with a modern twist. The Asian Students Association demonstrated a step dance to promote the Asian culture. OLAS and the Hispanic Cultural Society performed a Latin dance, mixing traditional styles from tango to salsa.

To end the night’s festivities, P.A.R.E. performed several dances to symbolize that the Filipino influence can be seen from line dances to ballroom dances.

The more traditional performances showed important elements of the Filipino culture. Students presented a classic dance representing the movement of birds, a dance with a Muslim influence, and a Filipino folklore dance. Representative of the royal manner of walking, the girls of P.A.R.E performed the dramatic, stately dance with brightly colored scarves. They also performed a modern dance with a hip-hop feel.

While P.A.R.E hopes to have a greater number of cultural organizations participate in next year’s event, the Multicultural Night was a success in bringing together different cultural groups to celebrate the differences that so frequently cause a divide.