As a part of Cultural Harmony Week, students took a break from their studies and enjoyed performances and great food at the Intercultural Dinner in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom on Saturday Oct. 21. The annual dinner aims to bring awareness and appreciation to cultural clubs at Geneseo.
Multicultural and diversity-focused student organizations including African Student Association, Black Student Union, Chinese Culture Club at Geneseo, Caribbean Student Association, Japanese Culture Club, Korean American Student Association, Latino Student Association, Pride, Shakti and Women of Action came together to relate experiences of freedom and redemption through song, dance, skit and video.
ASA began the performances with short skits in which students introduced themselves as different countries in Africa and discussed the problems they faced. Some central issues were the wealth gap and lack of social mobility in Kenya, female oppression in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the prepubescent marriage of girls in South Sudan. In a powerful display of unity, ASA members joined hands at the end and chanted, “We are Africa and together we will rise.”
CSA performed a skit about immigration practices that threaten the lives and wellbeing of refugees who often come to the U.S. to escape desperate conditions and suffer family separation and detainment. They performed a moving skit about a young woman separated from her husband and kids who is held in a detainment facility with no blankets, inedible food and no lawyer for days.
KASA performed a dance with the Korean flag to emphasize their concept of freedom and the importance of the Korean flag in times of struggle.
Shakti performed skits about many topics including the harmful effects of colorism and sexual discrimination in South Asia. Colorism leads some people to adopt Eurocentric values in which dark skin is devalued and women are encouraged to lighten their skin.
Another woman in the skit is punished by a court of law for having sexual relations with a woman. She was struck six times in the back with a wooden cane in front of over one hundred people in a court of law.
The Intercultural Dinner is an annual event put on by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The Alliance for Community Enrichment coordinates the event. The ten clubs that participated in the event communicate through ACE, led by Chair of ACE sophomore Yadelin Fernandez and Vice Chair of ACE senior Simone Bouchey.
The theme of Cultural Harmony Week was “detainment and detention,” and the performances at the dinner reflected this theme while also highlighting how persecuted people across cultures have persevered and even flourished in the face of oppression.
“This year in particular, due to the political climate right now and the list of offenses and oppressions that seem to multiply before our eyes, the central message was about injustice,” Bouchey said. “But it is also about the incredible strength and humanity that persecuted peoples across all cultures possess, and how celebrating and rising above those injustices is in and of itself a rebellious act.”
The dinner was a powerful event designed to raise awareness of global issues faced by multicultural groups—as well as encourage students to join the many groups that performed—and to rise above injustice and seek freedom and empowerment.