Cultures come together at campus carnaval
Free shirts, a photo booth, license plate novelties, performances and an array of food options attracted more than a thousand students Wednesday afternoon for the third Carnaval of Cultures held for the first time at Lynn Eusan Park.
“We wanted a huge festival celebration to just celebrate a whole bunch of different cultures. That is what CEO is all about,” said Council of Ethnic Organizations assistant director Jessica Luang.
For the first time, Carnaval of Cultures was hosted entirely in one location, Luang said. In previous years, she said the festival portion was at Butler Plaza and the performance portion was held later that day at Cullen Performance Hall.
On the grassy field before the Lynn Eusan stage were a dozen round tables and white tents containing free booths such as balloon art, face-painting and food and goods booths by student organizations such as Middle East Student Association and Lebanese Student Association.
Among the crowd was AIESEC, the student organization that helps send students abroad and bring international students to UH, selling Alfajores, an Argentinian snack. Digital media sophomore Sterling Meachen of AIESEC said efforts to understanding another’s culture are the first steps to abolishing ignorance.
“A foreign culture isn’t necessarily a stranger; it’s just something you don’t know yet,” Meachen said. “So this provides students with a very convenient location of meeting different students, different organizations and different cultures, which they can all participate and be part of.”
A new organization, Dhun A Cappella, sold somosas and brownies at its booth. Dhun A Cappella president and mechanical engineering sophomore Anuraag Shah said he created Dhun A Cappella because “there’s special qualities that I always wanted to share with the Western music. I think there’s a lot of good stuff that can come from the combination.”
To introduce the organization, Dhun A Cappella decided to participate in the Carnaval of Cultures by offering Indian street food.
“Somosas is our street food. Street food can tell a lot about a culture,” Shah said. “It helps everyone learn a little bit about each other.”
Meanwhile, organizations performed cultural dances, songs, poems and martial arts demonstrations. Dances came from such organizations as Roaring RAAS, the Vietnamese Student Association and the sisters of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority.
Creative writing senior Kiara Carter of Baptist Student Ministry recited an original poem called “The Friend Zone,” which was about a lover not giving up on their lover though they were put in the friend zone.
“People can get bad information or shrewd information about something that they’re not a part of or something that they were a part of and then went away from,” Carter said.
“With BSM and other Christian organization on campus, we kind of get a bad face put on us by people who are not into it, because they don’t really know. So I think this is a good way to be honest with everybody and like ‘Hey, this is me. In case you’ve never met a Jesus-follower before, like, here you go, here we are, we’re normal.’”
Liberal studies senior Karen Mazzu said she enjoyed watching the performances and respects the dancers. She said she now wants to visit Bangladesh and Nigeria.
“Having an event like this is important because it breaks down the normal barriers,” Mazzu said. “Usually you walk by and a group of people are talking in a different language, but to see more of their culture and have that accessible, I think it’s good for school spirit overall. I’m glad they had it. It helps us get along.”