Student clubs examine concept of identity at Intercultural Dinner

Diversity is something that is often celebrated but rarely examined. On Saturday Nov. 9, the 14th annual Intercultural Dinner raised questions of identity that are often overlooked. The Alliance for Community Enrichment, a committee in charge of organizing and coordinating “10 multicultural and special interest [Student Association] funded groups,” was the driving force behind the dinner, according to the ACE website.

“ACE is composed of the 10 cultural clubs … They all work together throughout the year to not only bring their cultures to Geneseo but also to show intersectionality between all of us,” ACE Chair senior Bruno Villazhinay said.

Villazhinay spearheaded the planning of the annual dinner, coordinating the groups as well as handling the more logistical matters including properly allocating funds to pay for the dinner.

The Black Student Union, Geneseo Chinese Culture Club, Japanese Culture Club, Korean American Student Association, Latino Student Association, Students Eliminating Ableism through Advocacy, Shakti, Slavic Club, Womyn's Action Coalition and ACE all participated and prepared dishes for the dinner.

According to Villazhinay, the event's goal was “to promote cultural diversity in Geneseo ... that Geneseo is not just composed of the white majority but also with other cultures.”

Alongside the examination of perceptions of cultural and interest groups, the dinner also raised funds for the nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders.

As “Doctors Without Borders works with many of the countries that the ACE groups represent,” according to Villazhinay, the organization was a salient choice.

Diners chose from a smorgasbord of dainties, ranging from ddukbokki, spicy rice cakes made by KASA to nalesniki, an eastern European crepe prepared by Slavic Club.

Students cooked the cultural dishes in Mary Jemison Dining Hall with ingredients provided by Campus Auxiliary Services.

According to Villazhinay, each year the dinner has a different theme. This year, the event looked at constructing and reaffirming “I”dentity.

During the dinner's accompanying skits, each group explored the stereotypes that surround their respective cultures or interests. Geneseo Pride Alliance put on several skits involving the misconceptions involving gender and sexuality, including one that raised the issue of transgender choices of identifying with one sex over the other.

KASA and JCC looked at tensions between Korean and Japanese cultures in dating because of a long history of conflict between the two nations.

Through the skits and the overall theme of the night, organizations “try to reaffirm how they see themselves, not as what other people see them as,” Villazhinay said.