Multicultural Affairs hosts cultural event

The Department of Multicultural Affairs held an International Culture Showcase on Nov. 11. Students and administrators gathered to celebrate diversity at St. John’s through food, games and musical performances.

The showcase was part of a long line of cultural events set to transpire throughout the year that includes International Education Week and various Heritage Month celebrations.

Nashia Whittenburg, associate director of Cultural Affairs, said she felt that the event was a fun-filled experience that educated students on international culture.

“Our goal was to educate the St. John’s University community on the richness of cultural diversity; particularly the cultural diversity that comprises this student body,” she said.

“It was great for students, faculty, staff and administrators to enjoy and have the opportunity to learn about a culture different from their own in an effort to foster understanding, support, and community,” she added.

Whittenburg orchestrates all of the Cultural Heritage Month celebrations and Global Awareness Projects while advising student organizations oriented towards religion and social justice.

“Many of our programs exceed 200-plus in attendance,” she said.

According to Whittenburg, Latino Heritage Month alone had a combined student engagement rate of approximately 2,000 students.

She also said that over 150 students have RSVP’d for International Education Week featuring lectures from author E. Benjamin Skinner.

“All of this does not include the work done on the Staten Island Campus, nor does it include Project A.I.M., Asian Roundtable, the English Language Table and the work done by Rosa Yen- the other Associate Director in our office,” Whittenburg said.

Attendants at the event represented various student organizations including P.A.R.E., African Students Association, Haitian Society and L.A.S.O. “I think that the event was a great way to learn about the different cultures of the world while still having a lot of fun,” said sophomore Brian Qian.

“It was great for international students to come out and see the different cultures that are present at St. John’s so they can see how diverse this country and this campus is.”

Musical performances at the showcase included drum dances by members of the African Students Association and Creole dancing lessons from students of the Haitian Society.

The program also displayed folkloric Filipino dances presented by P.A.R.E. members.

“The best part was learning how to dance the different dances of different countries because it brought all of us together in an enjoyable way,” said Rigoberto Reyes, a freshman, who attended the event.

“We need more programs like this at St. John’s where we can all educate ourselves about the different cultures in the melting pot that is St. John’s,” he added.

The Department of Multicultural Affairs will hold other events in the future aimed at promoting cultural heritage on campus.

“Our expectations for next year are to become more globally inclusive,” said Whittenburg. “We want to establish additional global, civic, cultural, and religious student led organizations, increase global literature and programming, and to begin celebrating additional cultures through heritage months.”